Monday, July 23, 2018

Back to School! Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown's got MAIL, and Duck delivers the letter, some of it written in orange crayon.

Dear Farmer Brown,

Please be our guest at our Farm Day lunch tomorrow.

Bring the animals, too!

Dinkelmeyer Elementary School
P.S. What's your favorite color?
P.P.S.: How old are you?P.P.P.S.: We have a turtle.

It's been quite a while since Farmer Brown has been to school. He's honored, and he wants his farm animals to make a good impression.

But when he tells them about their visit, they begin to cluck, and moo, and oink excitedly. Farmer Brown lectures his livestock sternly.

"School is very serious," he tells his hens. "No CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCKING!"

"School is very calm," he tells the cows. "No STOMPING, CLOMPING, AND MOOING."

"School is very quiet," he tells the pigs. "No HOOTING, HOLLERING, OR OINKING."

Now it is time to lay down the law to Duck, who is always up to something. But Farmer Brown finds her meditating solo, seated on her yoga cushion, eyes closed, breathing slowly in and out. She doesn't register any reaction to his words, but he warns her anyway.

"Try not to be--Ducky,"

With his critters properly chastised, the next morning Farmer Brown loads his subdued livestock up in his truck and drives them to the elementary school. Strangely, when they arrive at Dinkelmeyer Elementary, there are no signs of a gala Farm Day celebration under way in the schoolyard. But at least his charges are following the rules. No one is mooey, clucky, or oinky, and Duck still seems to be concentrating exclusively on her deep breathing. The whole building is just as a school should be-- quiet, calm, and serious.

And then the bell rings.

Suddenly the schoolyard explodes with noisy energy as the kids run outside for recess....

Squeaking and squealing...

Zooming and zigging....

And Farmer Brown's animals quickly revert to type and join the kids in their free-for-all of chattering and yelling. The cows are mooey, stomping and clomping, the pigs are oinky, wallowing and hollering, and the chickens are cluckey, snapping and clapping. It seems the critters fit right in with the kids.

But where is Duck?

Duck is being--Ducky, seated in the school office at the Principal's desk, perhaps writing some new school rules with an orange crayon:

Be kind. Be helpful. Be honest. Be safe.

Respect one another, and don't eat the paste.

For a quick review of school rules, Doreen Cronin's new beginner reading story, Click, Clack, Quack to School! (A Click Clack Book) (Atheneum, 2018) is just what the teacher ordered. Duck is up to her old tricks, this time with a little forgery and finagling, and illustrator Betsy Lewin's unique and quirky characters are more charming than ever, if possible. For more take-your-critters-to-school fun, pair this one with Cynthia Rylant's and Arthur Howard's delightful Mr. Putter and Tabby Ring the Bell (see review here).

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