MRS. WISHY-WASHY'S FARM
Joy Cowley, , illus. by Elizabeth Fuller. . Philomel, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23872-7
The queen of barnyard clean returns after a 23-year hiatus, along with her mud-loving cow, pig and duck. Only this time, the farm animals aren't so tolerant of her scrubbing. " 'Moo-moo!' 'Ee-ee!' 'Quack, quack, quack!' 'Bye, Mrs. Wishy-Washy,/ mean old Mrs. Wishy-Washy./ We are leaving you/ and we won't be back.' " The three flee to the city ("where the barns are big," squeals the pig), end up getting into mischief (e.g., while looking for a meal in one such "barn [with] food on the dishes," a chef threatens to serve them up as "roast on toast") and they wind up in "animal jail." This new installment may lack the simple repetition of the original, but Cowley keeps this lengthier sequel easy enough for beginning readers, despite several tricky words (e.g., "stampede," "anxious," "doubt") sprinkled throughout the rhyming text. Fuller's bright ink-and-watercolor illustrations amplify the tale's humor. When the runaways end up in a hardware store, the artist imagines a comical chaos of upturned paint cans—fur and feathers erupting with splotches of color; the cow wears paint buckets on her front hooves while the pig sports a red pail for a hat. All the better for their plump, fuzzy slipper– and bandanna-wearing owner who comes to the rescue. She takes them home for a good wash, wrapping up an appealing story that resonates with the message: there's no place like home—baths and all. Ages 2-6.
Reviewed on: 04/21/2003