In Rita Gray's Mama Mine, Mama Mine, illustrated by Ponder Goembel, the mother of each animal leaves her brood during the day to take care of her responsibilities: Cats must catch rats, pigs must eat and sheep must be shorn. The baby animal calls after its mother, "When will you come back?" She explains that while she must go about her duties, she will always return. A young boy plays during the day as his mother feeds the chickens, does laundry and gathers wool. After his mother finishes her work, she lovingly scoops her son up into her arms as she had promised that morning—"I'll come back, come back to you." Though Gray's story educates readers about each animal's function on the farm, it is also a reassuring depiction of a mother's love. The verses' repetition will lull even the most active readers to sleep after a long day of playing farm.

E-I-E-I-O!
The team of New York Times best-selling author David Elliott and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Holly Meade has produced the delightful On the Farm. Separately going about their bustling daily lives, each farm creature has a unique routine, voice and disposition. The rooster is crowing, cows are grazing, turtles are swimming and the snake is coiled up in the garden, all while the farmer is tending to his duties. Each member of the farm has a regular role to play. Elliott's verses capture a reverence for animals unfamiliar to cityfolk, and Meade's watercolor and woodcut illustrations—a first for one of her picture books—are serene and beautiful. The subdued colors make this farm scene a quiet reflection of everyday patterns.

DIRTY WORK
In contrast, Stuck in the Mud captures the hectic busyness of life on a muddy farm. It begins as a normal morning: The animals slowly wake and the farmer and his wife begin to straighten the house. The hen is counting her chicks when she realizes that one of them is missing. A brief, frantic search discovers the chick in the mucky mud, but he's stucky stuck. In the name of teamwork, each member of the farm—hen, cat, dog, sheep, horse and, finally, the farmer—jumps in and becomes stuck as well. They push and they pull, but the mud just won't give way to release their feet. When the little chick easily hops out of the mud with a "plop!," even the littlest farm mouse is rolling with laughter. Jane Clarke's frenzied story is brought to life by Garry Parsons' bright, comical artwork. Readers will enjoy the story's rhythm, which makes it an excellent read-aloud choice.

VOTE DUCK
Just in time for the presidential race, a new edition of Duck for President offers a hilarious look at the campaign trail. Every animal on Farmer Brown's place has chores to do, but Duck is sick and tired of his. He thinks he can do a much better job than the farmer and decides to hold an election. Running on a platform that promises "a kinder, gentler farm," Duck wins by a muddy landslide. Once he realizes how difficult running a farm really is, he opts to run for governor. But why stop there? The Caldecott Honor-winning duo of author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin (Click, Clack, Moo) follow our feathered friend all the way to the White House, where he learns that farm work isn't so bad after all. And there's even a blurb from real-life politicos Mary Matalin and James Carville.

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