cover image Oink-a-Doodle-Moo


Jef Czekaj. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-206011-2

In Hip and Hop Don’t Stop! and Yes, Yes, Yaul! Czekaj has made clear his affinity for old-school hip-hop. He dials the entertainment back even further in this barnyard tale, which is propelled by an old-fashioned game of telephone. “I have a secret,” a bubble-gum pink pig whispers, hoof to mouth, to a blank-eyed rooster: “Oink. Pass it on.” The rooster, in turn, relays an “Oink-a-doodle-doo” to a cow, whose “Oink-a-doodle-moo” becomes a frog’s “Oink-a-ribbit-moo,” and so on. Czekaj’s (Cat Secrets) cartoon animals race around the farm wearing determined expressions that contrast comically with the absurdity of the message they are delivering, and when a cat asks a hapless dog to pass on “Hee-haw-oink-baa-quack-caw-ribbit-hiss-neigh-meow-moo-hoo-squeak,” the dog gulps. He runs helter-skelter to the pig and, with an embarrassed, hangdog look, eventually confesses, “I can’t do it.” The book’s ending becomes its beginning as the pig says, “Don’t worry... we’ll just start over!” Czekaj wrings an impressive amount of humor from a simple conceit; the story will likely have children ready to play telephone (or just make some animal noises). Ages 3–6. (June)