It’s not called horseplay for nothing.
Farmer is the unhappy owner of a “worthless bunch” of horses that sleep all day. What gives with these narcoleptic nags, he wonders, so he hides out that night to spy on them, discovering the horses spend the night monkeying around—call it horseplay, with the emphasis on play. Wilson’s rhymed text is just as merry as her subjects: “Those horses didn’t sleep one bit. / They frolicked on the loose. / They joined in games like Hide-and-Seek, / Leapfrog, and Duck, Duck, Goose.” But her Farmer is a killjoy, ready to throw his wet blanket on the herd for some reason; surely he doesn't want them to work for their oats. Night after night the horses thwart his party-pooping, until finally he stops the horseplay by staying up all night, which makes him one of those worthless types that sleep all day. The mood here is of subversive festivity, with a rolling, melodious pleasure to the words and a gratifying, easy quality to McMullan’s artwork, with its 1950s feel and eye-comforting colors. The horses even learn that a good night’s sleep doesn’t cut into their horseplay.
A solid and gleeful dose of ridiculousness. (Picture book. 3-6)