A veteran children’s musician captures the epic proportions of a childhood trek to the country store in this debut sing-along picture book.
A young boy and his dog set off to the country store, a long walk from home. Soon the boy meets his friend Bob, who asks for help with his chores so that he can go along. The narrator gladly obliges. A detail-filled, two-page spread shows the chaos the boys create as they finish the farmyard tasks: a cat drinks from the milk pail; the dog chases the pigs; and the two friends ride a wheelbarrow, chasing the chickens and spilling the freshly collected eggs. But, presumably, the work gets finished, and on the next page, the boys and the dog head for the store, slowing down on the hot day, until they run into Jim, who has a bike. All three boys pile on the bike in carefree fashion, unconcerned with helmets or safety rules, picking up speed. “Everything was goin’ just fine until / We came to a great…big…hill,” the narrator says, dubiously pointing at a winding path in the illustration, while Bob urges Jim to take the long way. Jim refuses, even though it means (shown in another wordless, two-page spread) that the narrator, Bob, and the dog will have to push the bike to the top. The reward? The ride down at increasing speeds, at first joyous and then terrifying as the bike’s brakes snap, and three kids careen straight into a cow standing in the path, sailing into the air and landing—wouldn’t you know it?—at the door of the country store. There they meet two female friends (one of whom is the sole child of color in the cast). And the entertaining punch line? The narrator is the only kid with any money. In Noah’s amusing tale, the uneven rhythm of the words, sprinkled with fiddley-diddley-diddley-dees throughout, is a challenge to scan without first listening to the CD that accompanies the book. But after a reader enjoys the music, the rhythms should come naturally. And while the lyrics are clever and the refrain will likely have kids joining in, the project communicates much of the nostalgic story—and the characters’ emotions—through Noah’s glorious, wordless spreads, which should have children laughing out loud.
An impressive work that takes a mundane journey and makes it a hilarious, melodious adventure.