Story County: Here We Come!
Derek Anderson, Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-16844-1
Toward the end of this first book in a new series set in Story County, Chicken tells a succinct bedtime story: "Once upon a time... there were five friends. Together they made one wonderful farm. The end." In reducing this book's plot to those few sentences, Anderson demonstrates that storytelling is much more than just what happens. And he proves it in the preceding pages, in which a cheerful yet clueless farmer and four animals create a farm from scratch, transforming empty spreads into a vivid barnyard. Anderson's cartoons are a departure from the richly developed worlds of his Little Quack books; equally accessible, this book's loose aesthetic features characters composed of boldly outlined geometric shapes, splashy colors, and confident brushwork. Chronicled in punchy, dialogue-driven prose, the friends' slapdash process lends itself to amusing scenes: paint sloshes and spills as they work on the barn; Dog buries bones when they plant "their favorite foods"; and Miss Cow, wearing high heels, hauls a crescent moon across the field to decorate the night sky that they paint—the crowning touch on a day's hard work. Ages 2–6. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/15/2010