Lane Smith, Author
Lane Smith, Author . Viking $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-670-03594-6
Reviewed on: 03/03/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003

A decade after the original Happy Hocky Family!, Smith relocates the optimistic Hockys to a rural setting. At first, the chipper narrative and straightforward images seem to state the obvious: "Here is the Hocky family's new house./ Their new house is actually a very old house." The Dick-and-Jane style turns out to be a parody, however. The next page shows the Hockys huddling under an umbrella: "What a fun house./ When it rains outside,/ it rains inside, too." The Hocky parents and their three children marvel at the wonderful farm animals nearby (" 'Look,' says Holly. 'Chickens!'/ 'Look,' says Henry. 'Goats!' ") only to change their tune when the wind direction shifts (" 'Pee-yew,' says Holly. 'Chickens!'/ 'Yuck,' says Henry. 'Goats!' "). In brief chapters with deadpan titles, Henry listens quietly for birds as squirrels ransack his feeder, Holly picks poison ivy for a sweet little bouquet and, in "Baby's Friend," an ecstatic Baby Hocky offers a slice of pink cake to the business end of a skunk ("Run, Mr. and Mrs. Hocky, run!"). There are wry math lessons, too: "If Farmer Dill's rooster/ crows 17 times a day,/ and the Hocky family/ has heard him 6,205 times,/ how long has the Hocky/ family been in the country?.../ One whole year." In Smith's simple block-print illustrations, the Hockys have lollipop heads and stick bodies; the amiable, rustic quality of the speckly, oatmeal-colored pages belies the sly satire. The Hockys certainly do seem contented, though, which adds to the tongue-in-cheek humor of this mock-primer. All ages. (May)

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