Punk Farm on Tour. By Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Knopf. $15.99.
Big and Little. By John Stadler. Robin Corey Books. $9.99.
It’s all in how you see things. Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s second Punk Farm book continues to play with the idea of barnyard animals as rock stars – that is, animals being a lot more than they seem to be. This is a great message for kids ages 5-8, who are a lot more than they seem to be…and know it. But this isn’t a “message” book at all, except perhaps subliminally. It’s a ton of fun. This time, when Farmer Joe heads off to a tractor convention, the Punk Farm band – Sheep, Cow, Pig, Goat and Chicken – packs up for a road trip as well. Determined to play for their fans around the
Things are not what they seem to be in Big and Little, either. An adorable book of foldout pages for ages 3-6, John Stadler’s story has a circus setting and revolves around something that is obviously impossible: an elephant climbing a ladder, high above the audience, and diving into an ordinary glass of water. The mouse ringmaster builds the tension higher and higher all the time, with Stadler cleverly intercutting scenes of the mouse with ones of Ellie, the elephant. That intercutting is crucial to the shift of perspective that Stadler uses to resolve the story in a very amusing finale that proves that things are not necessarily what they appear to be at all. This is not only a clever book but also one from which kids can learn something about trusting (or not trusting) their assumptions. Even after they know the trick, kids can go back through the book, again and again, trying to figure out why they believed one thing when something different was really the case. Stadler’s approach, especially his use of flaps to prevent kids from seeing the characters together until the end, makes the book not only enjoyable and offbeat but also downright clever. Both kids and parents will have fun with this one, simply by keeping the whole thing in perspective.