The sky is sky blue; the day is sunny. Cow kicks the red ball, but it goes over the outstretched arms of Mouse, Duck, and Pig. "Oh no! The ball went into THE DOGHOUSE!” On the next double page, the now indigo sky surrounds a sinister-looking orange doghouse, with a thunderbolt cracking above the roof. “Who will get it out?" All you can see of the four not-so-brave friends are their round white frightened eyes (and ears on the three who have ears). Mouse volunteers big, brave, strong Cow. “Moo?” Cow says, and heads warily into the doghouse. “But Cow does not come out.” Uh, oh. Next, Mouse sends in smart, wise, stinky Pig. ("I am NOT stinky," Pig mutters as he enters the doorway.) Guess what? Pig does not come out, either. Nor does Duck, which leaves a terrified Mouse outside, all alone.
“Can’t you come out, Duck?” he calls. We see Dog’s scary face at the door. “NO! Because I AM HAVING DUCK FOR DINNER,” he growls. Okay, maybe you’ve heard that line before, but I bet your kids haven’t. First they’ll shiver, and then, when they turn the page, they’ll laugh and laugh and say, “Read it again!”
Design is key in this easy-to-read gem, with the animals painted in flat colors and outlined in a heavy blue line, cartoon style. The simple narration is printed in oversized white and yellow letters; with the animals’ excited conversations in dark blue and red, inside dialogue balloons, all just begging to be read aloud. You have to act this one out with your kids; even the earliest readers will love reading it with expression. Compare the similar surprise endings in Keiko Kasza's The Wolf's Chicken Stew and Joe Kulka's Company's Coming. Continue the slapstick with Mouse and his pals in A Birthday for Cow! And What Will Fat Cat Sit On?.
THEMES: ANIMALS. DOGS. HUMOR. PETS.
Harcourt Children, 2008
Suggested Ages: 2-7