Despite its title, this nostalgic Family Storytime title focuses most closely on a dedicated farm horse named Sibley, who is shown in all seasons doing ""the work of two strong horses."" Imagine poor Sibley's chagrin when Farmer Bill drives a shiny new tractor into the farmyard and the anthropomorphized machine announces to the admiring barnyard residents that he can do the work of 10 horses. Idle in the corral, a despondent Sibley listens as the other creatures sing Mac's praises and ""wondered if he had been forgotten for good."" But when Mac gets stuck up to his axles in the mud, trusty Sibley pulls the vehicle out, thereby earning himself a role working alongside the tractor, and the two become ""the best of friends."" Facile but cheerful, Steers's first book has an old-fashioned sentimentality that edges on the hokey. The bright, cartoonish artwork includes hoary details (Mac has eyes for headlights and a mouth beneath his engine vents; Farmer Bill is perpetually smiling, roly-poly and clad in overalls). For all the familiarity of the elements, however, there's a unity to the presentation, and the close-range images and the dialogue incorporating many voices will lend the book to a spirited read-aloud. As bonus bookends, the two-color endpapers label Sibley's hitchings (swingletree, crupper, rosette, etc.) and the tractor's parts in great detail. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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