cover image Barnyard Banter

Barnyard Banter

Denise Fleming. Henry Holt & Company, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1957-5

Fleming's latest picture book pays a joyful, noisy visit to the farm. A bouncy, rhyming text places various animals in their natural surroundings and gives voice to the sounds they make, e.g., ``Hens in the henhouse, cluck, cluck, cluck / Pigs in the wallow, muck, muck, muck.'' In a mostly visual--though gratuitous--subplot, a lone white goose accompanies the reader from page to page, and a textual aside occasionally asks, ``But where's Goose?'' Fleming's ( In the Small, Small Pond ) by now familiar pulp-painting style continues to evolve. Coffee grounds, oats and burlap add texture and depth to her zesty, full-bodied color-scheme, while a thick black typeface works well as a design element, scattering onomatopoeic words at different angles across the pages. The penultimate spread, which features a cacophony of text and hardly any figures, successfully sums up the spirit of the proceedings. In some cases, the in-your-face perspectives may need a bit of clarification for the youngest readers, but the volume as a whole delivers a hefty helping of rowdy fun. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)