cover image Animal Crackers Fly the Coop

Animal Crackers Fly the Coop

Kevin O'Malley, Walker, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8027-9837-4

Inveterate punster O'Malley (Gimme Cracked Corn and I Will Share) retells "The Brementown Musicians" in this story of four animals who dream of opening a comedy club. A "comedi-hen" who is "tired of working for chicken feed" escapes when a farmer threatens to cook her on "Fry-day." She meets Dog, whose jokes make him "all bark and no bite," and Cat, too busy singing silly carols ("I saw Mommy hiss at Santa Claus") to chase mice. Rounding out the quartet is an "udderly miserable" Cow, "in a real stew" for preferring wisecracking to milk production. The wits foil a heist by meowing and growling their best material, then turn the robbers' abandoned house into a standup hotspot. O'Malley tells the story in expository panels and adds he-said-she-said gags in voice bubble asides. His line drawings, in shadowy black ink with digitally added hues of murky green, brown, and moonlit yellow-white, evoke a late-night setting. The barnyard banter should amuse grade-schoolers, even if the humor isn't farm fresh. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)