Just try to stop kids from reading this (or yourself, from breaking out in rhyme): ""Down in the boondocks,/ The boondocks, the boondocks,/ There lives an old farmer/ Who is deaf in one ear.// He is deaf in the other,/ The other, the other./ He is deaf in the other/ For most of the year."" So he can't hear the hens cackling, rooster crowing, bulldog barking, wagonwheels squeaking, mule braying . . . he can't hear his wife hollering, ""To make herself clear./ 'Now here's your ear trumpet,/ Ear trumpet, ear trumpet./ Now here's your ear trumpet/ And here is your beer.' "" But the robber, who can, runs off in fear! A rhyming ballad this inventive and assured is an accession to the easy-reader art and, with crisp, crafty Glen Rounds pictures, makes a package with enduring appeal.