Sadler gives cockamamie treatment to this barnyard variant on the game of telephone.
"Cow is stuck in the fence." Or was it "Cow and Hen had good luck"? No matter: "Pass it on!" Now it’s "A good duck gave cow a penny." The game is one of those deeply amusing exposés of the corruption of information as it is passed along. Sadler’s approach to the game is humorous and artful: She twists and fractures the words in delightful fashion, sometimes from what appears to be mishearing, sometimes from embroidery or exaggeration. The cumulative errors result in a fine and farcical ending. Without putting a heavy hand on the proceedings, Sadler illustrates just how inaccuracies in communication can lead to utter balderdash, as they might in gossip and rumormongering. Slack’s accompanying artwork crackles with energy and color, and the barnyard creatures have a high degree of personality. Each instance of passing it on has at least two windows of activity, one depicting the act itself and the other what the corruption would look like.
Though it is supposed to be a silent game—and here it is anything but that—this rendering of the childhood favorite captures the essence of its illuminating comedy. (Picture book. 4-8)