cover image William Wegman's Farm Days

William Wegman's Farm Days

William Wegman. Hyperion Books for Children, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0216-6

Imagine Grant Wood's American Gothic with weimaraners, and you'll have a notion of this volume's humorous contents. For his cover image, Wegman photographs two stoic dogs in overalls, one holding a hoe and the other a rake. These, readers learn, are the twinlike Batty and Crooky McDouble, country cousins to ""city boy"" Chip. The McDoubles welcome Chip to their farm and observe as he learns to plant crops and milk cows. Their ulterior motives become apparent, however, when they show their new friend how to use a push mower, then escape to a fishing hole as he sweats. As in his earlier efforts, Wegman uses bulky costumes and carefully posed human assistants to give the illusion that his dogs walk upright and have human hands. The weimaraners cooperate magnificently, with facial expressions that range from sneaky to quizzical to proud. Summery green trees, wide pastures and a quaint red barn provide a bucolic backdrop to the oddball farmers, shown in photos of smartly varying sizes and shapes. Longtime Wegman watchers will enjoy spotting Chip, Batty, Crooky and their elder Chundo (who plays the overseer at the McFay farm) in their new roles here. The rustic plot of this witty book takes a back seat to the inside jokes, comic-grotesque imagery and playful, ad-caliber type design. All ages. (Apr.)