cover image The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown

The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown

Teri Sloat. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06883-0

Like Inside a Barn in the Country (reviewed above), this effort features a standard, mayhem-in-the-barn plot. As Farmer Brown desperately swats at an unseen mosquito whose ``tiny, whiny, humming sound'' keeps him up one night, he demolishes his bedroom and awakens all the animals in his barn. Westcott's (Never Take a Pig to Lunch) illustrations alternate between the farmer's room and the barn's interior, and the skeeter's flight path is indicated by a curly, dotted line across each page (observant readers will wonder why it's light outside the farmer's bedroom window, but nighttime-dark outside the barn window). Sloat (Letter to Letter) tries to build excitement by introducing the nervous animals one by one (``The doves cooed,/ The cows mooed,/ The old horse neighed,/ The donkey brayed''), while Westcott's spreads show anxious chickens tumbling in the hay and a grouchy goat leaping the cover. Yet for all the haphazard action, this tale lacks genuine vitality. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)