A group of anthropomorphized farm animals threatened by a fox turn to a clever cat to protect them.
A straightforward plot propels this British import briskly through an eventful evening. Warduff, a fat black cat whose torn ear suggests a violent past, wakes to a call from Fefferflap the goose. A fox has been seen slinking around. Somewhat unexpectedly, Warduff uses brains, not brawn, to come up with a plan to scare away the fox and keep the animals safe. Much of the humor and nuance come from Head’s digitally created illustrations. Warduff’s phone, for example, is of the simple can-and-string variety (the can’s label reads “Fatty Cat Mouse Morsels in Fish Jelly”), while the receiver clutched by Fefferflap appears to be a miniature pink pig with a very long curly tail. Head employs simple silhouettes and stylized shapes to create his animal characters and pastoral landscape. All of the animals have wide, staring eyes, which convey a surprising range of emotions. Unfortunately, the illustration of the clever trick that convinces Snipe the fox to hightail it out of town may not work quite as well for readers, but they’ll still be tickled by the elaborate planning of “Operation Corncob.”Funny names and fanciful language are bolstered by droll drawings to create a generally pleasing if not especially memorable rustic escapade. (Picture book. 4-9)