Morphin' Message: Pass It On! by Marilyn Sadler
Remember the old party game called "Gossip?"
Players sit in a circle, while the game leader quietly whispers a sentence in the first player's ear. Each player passes the message on to the next softly in his or her ear, making sure no one else overhears. The final player has to tell the group what the "message" is. Inevitably, the sentence has changed incrementally but radically by the time it makes the full circle, usually with comic results.
Marilyn Sadler makes good use of this device in her newest picture book, Pass It On (Blue Apple, 2012).
ONE DAY BEE WENT TO VISIT HIS FRIEND COW.
FINALLY BEE FOUND COW IN THE BACK FIELD. COW WAS STUCK IN THE FENCE!
"I'LL GET HELP!" BEE OFFERED.
Bee soon meets Frog and delivers his message, with his own advice to "Pass it on!" Frog hops off to recruit more friends, and when he meets up with Pig, he delivers the news:
"COW PUT A DUCK IN THE TENT! PASS IT ON."
Of course, Pig further mangles the message as he passes it to Goose, who scrambles the sense of it as she passes it on to Dog, who rushes off to tell Kitten, who mixes it up as she reports to Mouse, who then reports the big news to Hen as he thinks he heard it.
"COW HAS MILK AND HONEY!"
Now that is news worth acting on, and when Hen proclaims her version of the story, everyone goes into instant find-Cow mode, and Cow gets her rescue squad at long last.
All's well that ends well for this mixed-up mob, with plenty of milk provided by Cow and ample honey brought by Bee for a real "rescue party" back in the barn. Veteran writer Marilyn Sadler makes good use of this device, ably aided by Michael Slack's bright, stylized illustrations. It's a comic cow caper, with the long-term lesson that fact checkers have their place in this world!