Friday, April 17, 2009

Dog Days: Funny Farm by Mark Teague

In the spring Cousin Judy, Uncle Earl, and Aunt Josephine met Edward at the station.

It's Edward's first visit to Hawthorne Farm.

City slicker Edward, a portly Boston terrier attired in a dapper gray suit, pristine white shirt and natty red bowtie, arrives for a buccolic visit with his country cousins, in Mark Teague's forthcoming Funny Farm (Orchard Books, 2009), a situation which allows Teague's considerable illustrative skills the opportunity for an, um, field day. Dry, understated, matter-of-fact text accompanies Edward's adventures, as, always attired in suit and bowtie, he attempts to follow his folksy farm family's daily routine, as, for example,

Uncle Earl shows Edward how to milk the cow.

We see Uncle Earl plugging away as he milks his friendly cow. Edward, however, has fallen fully asleep, jaw agape, on a hay bale in the predawn darkness.

Then we see Cousin Judy, taking Edward out to feed the pigs, in which Edward falls into the muck, muddying the considerable seat of his well-tailored pants. Still wearing his suit with the soiled rear, Edward watches ants while Uncle Earl plows, digs holes for Aunt Josephine's garden seedlings, paints the barn messily from the top of a tall ladder, and finds out what sheep herders actually DO with those long crooks. After Cousin Judy gives him an unsuccessful knitting lesson, Edward enthusiastically tucks in to a typical farm dinner, loading his plate with ham, limas, mashed potatoes, molded Jello salad, and other rural treats.

But there's no time for leisure on Hawthorne Farm. After dinner, the family is off to the barn dance, where the pig band plays and Edward and Judy do-si-do energetically, Edward still sporting his suit with the be-mucked rumble seat. Finally the tuckered terrier turns in for a well-needed night's sleep. And that's just his first day at Hawthorne Farm.

If you are familiar with Teague's Dear Mrs. LaRue series, you know that no one does doggy facial expressions better. Here Teague keeps his text spare and understated and lets his illustrations tell the real story, all the better to show off Edward's comic reactions to his agricultural adventures.

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  • This book makes me laugh. I gave it as a first birthday gift.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 8:47 AM  

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