cover image The Wind in the Wallows

The Wind in the Wallows

Jeanne Willis, illus. by Tony Ross. Andersen (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $9.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-84939453-6

In a story first published in the U.K. in 1998, frequent collaborators Willis and Ross send up bucolic children’s verse in the style of A.A. Milne or Graham Greene with a gracefully constructed poem about the possible sources of a terrible smell. With admirable metric precision, Willis describes the annoyance of Ross’s pen-and-ink creatures as they discover that something in the countryside stinks: “ ‘The cows on the bank must be playing a prank,’/ Said a rat. ‘It is rank, it is wrong.’/ ‘Us?’ the cows fussed. ‘It’s the sheep you can’t trust./ It is them that’s creating the pong.’ ” The cows, picnicking on sandwiches, point downriver; meanwhile, a rat sells clothespins to guard against the stench. The hobo fox roasting a sausage over a fire pleads ignorance, though the plague persists (“Then Parp and then Poop! And then Poot! And then Boop!”); it’s not the pigs, either. An army of clothespin-nosed animals eventually find the real foe: “just a boy dressed in green,/ With a big tin of beans.” Chortling is guaranteed when kids realize it really is a book about farting. Ages 3–5. (Nov.)