zweet-zweet-zweet" and a frog's basso backbeat ("thrum, thrum, thrum<"/>

FULL MOON BARNYARD DANCE

Carole Lexa Schaefer, Author, Christine Davenier, Illustrator , illus. by Christine Davenier. Candlewick $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1878-0

The combination of moonglow, a cricket's catchy "zweet-zweet-zweet" and a frog's basso backbeat ("thrum, thrum, thrum") proves too irresistible for a collection of farm animals, who learn a thing or two about being a partner in Schaefer's (Down in the Woods at Sleepytime) gently humorous tale. They exit the barnyard, head for the pond and start to boogie down. The animals pair up with their own kind and, with silky, translucent watercolors effused with shades of nocturnal blue, Davenier (Mabel Dancing; the Iris and Walter books) finds grace in every dance move. Two pigs kick up their plump heels with a spontaneous glee, while a smooth-looking rooster and his hen partner bring off a "fancy fandango" with continental aplomb, dipping dramatically. But this artistry can't always cover up the book's missteps. The lively spot illustrations and quick-stepping theme cry out for a distinctively rhythmic text, but the beat falters, despite some nimble alliteration and wordplay ("Goats together billy-bobbed the bebop.../ And the cats—they slink-slanked the samba"). When a cloud passes over the moon, the sudden darkness causes a momentary mix-up (with an unintentional swapping of partners); wise old frog sees it as a teachable moment—"Do some new partner dancing, by the light of moon"—that the animals embrace. Davenier's supple illustrations carry this tale's message of tolerance. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
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