Bee's friend Cow is stuck in a fence and asks for his help. Bee cannot help Cow by himself, so he decides to get the word out to as many farmyard friends as possible. But when he tells Frog about Cow's predicament and asks him to "Pass it on!", the message that gets passed to Pig is: "Cow put duck in a tent!" From there, the message morphs into the tent falling on a woodchuck, Cow having good luck, a penny, some money, some honey, etc. In the end, understanding dawns, Cow is dis-lodged, and he and Bee thank their friends with fresh milk and honey.
Kirkus STARRED REVIEW
Sadler gives cockamamie treatment to this barnyard variant on the game of telephone.
"Cow is stuck in the fence." Or was it "Cow and Hen had good luck"? No matter: "Pass it on!" Now it’s "A good duck gave cow a penny." The game is one of those deeply amusing exposés of the corruption of information as it is passed along. Sadler’s approach to the game is humorous and artful: She twists and fractures the words in delightful fashion, sometimes from what appears to be mishearing, sometimes from embroidery or exaggeration. The cumulative errors result in a fine and farcical ending. Without putting a heavy hand on the proceedings, Sadler illustrates just how inaccuracies in communication can lead to utter balderdash, as they might in gossip and rumormongering. Slack’s accompanying artwork crackles with energy and color, and the barnyard creatures have a high degree of personality. Each instance of passing it on has at least two windows of activity, one depicting the act itself and the other what the corruption would look like.
Though it is supposed to be a silent game—and here it is anything but that—this rendering of the childhood favorite captures the essence of its illuminating comedy.
When Cow gets stuck in a fence, Bee springs into action: “Bee buzz- buzzed to Frog’s pad and said: ‘Cow is stuck in the fence. Pass it on!’ ” As the message travels, however, it gets mangled beyond recognition. “Cow has money. Pass it on!” shouts wide-eyed Kitten to Mouse, who’s hanging out in the cupboard with the canned veggies and tuna. As befits the vintage nature of the game of tele- phone, Slack’s (Monkey Truck) artwork conjures images of early Golden Books like The Little Red Hen and The Poky Little Puppy. Frog, sitting on a laven- der mushroom playing with a yoyo, has appendages reminiscent of a 1950s atomic starburst design; bright blue Goose strums a guitar in a finale that has the animals celebrating Cow’s eventual rescue with a milk-and- honey party in the barn. Sadler (the P.J. Funnybunny series) writes eco- nomically while maintaining a sense of both urgency and comedy, the latter surfacing in speech-bubble asides, as well as the catapult-to-the-butt that eventually frees Cow.
Marilyn Stadler earned a degree in art but quickly discovered that writing was her true and most satisfying calling. She has since authored over a dozen children's books, including several leveled readers for Random House and picture books for Golden Books. The author lives in Cincinnati, OH.
Michael Slack's children books include a monkey truck hybrid, some knuckleheads, and a game called "Ick." Here he brings his high-energy, good humored style to the barnyard denizens of Pass it On!
Jacketed hardcover. Ages 4 and up.
USA 16.99 | Canada 18.99