cover image The Rickety Barn Show

The Rickety Barn Show

Jemma Beeke. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32795-4

This cheerful cumulative tale from a British team begins when Jasper the cat confides to Sniggle the pig that he will be singing at the Rickety Barn Show. Sniggle, not wanting to be left out, says he can play backup. A nosy chicken overhears Sniggle's music-making and proposes an all-hen dance revue. Soon, every animal on the farm is preparing a routine. At curtain time, they anxiously await their audience until Sniggle announces, ""There's nobody to watch the show... because... we're all in it!"" Undeterred, the acrobatic sheep, tea-set-juggling cows and emcee collie launch into an enthusiastic performance. Chapman fills the festive closing spread with vaudevillian antics, as a pompous plowhorse in a bow tie recites poetry amidst flying crockery and feathers. The almond-eyed, smiling animals appear to be enjoying themselves enormously, and notations like ""La-dee-dah!"" and ""Toot! Toot!"" provide sound effects. Beeke visits each creature in turn, presenting ample opportunity to whinny, baa and moo the dialogue, and she concludes with helpful suggestions for putting on another Rickety Barn Show. Those seeking an interactive project for preschoolers might find some amiable inspiration here. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)