The Farmer’s Away! Baa! Neigh!, written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy, uses rhythmic animal sounds and clever drawings to show that “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

When the farmer leaves on his tractor, the farm animals wait in the wings, peeking around the barn until the farmer is out of sight. Then the fun begins: The animals cluck, neigh and tweet, grab inner tubes and float in the creek. They picnic in the grass and eat corn on the cob, watermelon and pie. The dog jumps up, laughing and pointing at a fish in the horse’s glass of lemonade. Snakes, bees and birds blast down a rollercoaster so fast that their ice cream lifts off the cone. The pigs show off on waterskis as they balance sheep, frogs and a cow in a polka-dot suit. There is a hot-air balloon ride, and later, at a twilight gala, all the animals—dressed to the nines—dance the night away.

When the dog sees the farmer coming down the road, he barks an alert, and the animals shed their party garb in an explosion of hats and feathers, cupcakes and maraschino cherries. Will they make it back to the barn in time? Will the farmer hear the “eek” of a mouse running by in her party gown?

Preschoolers will love the crazy antics of farm animals making the most of a day off. The detailed, fun-filled illustrations will make frequent reading a pleasure.

 

Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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