Module 2 – Caldecott/Picture Books/SLIS 5420
Cronin, Doreen. (2000). Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. (B. Lewin, Illus.) New York: Spotlight/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Click, Clack, Moo is hilarious fun. This picture book is the type of book that grown-ups and kids love to read together so that they can giggle. The cows in the barn are unhappy, and they happen to have a typewriter. They begin to communicate their complaints to the farmer, and a domino effect ensues, with all the barnyard animals getting in on the action. The result is good for everyone, and makes for a fun story. The illustrations are humorous and bright, and the illustrator has added “typed” notes in a different font.
“Understatement is not lost on children. Neither is subtlety (though you probably wouldn’t know it when a 2-year old has decided to tell you “the funniest knock knock joke ever”). The creation of an effective picture book for small children has a variety of different tacks it can take, subtle being the most difficult. But “Click, Clack, Moo”, is beyond sublime, and it gets away with it too. In it, author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin have penned a delightful story about some dexterous cows with simple demands. In this tale, Farmer Brown’s cows have gotten ahold of a typewriter. Now equipped with the means with which they can express themselves, the cows demand electric blankets forthwith. Farmer Brown demurs (by throwing a small fit) so the cows join up with the chickens in demanding blankets for the chickens as well. In the end, a solution is reached and all parties are satisfied with the outcome. Management and labor have come to a compromise.
There is a single moment in this book that was, to me, the height of sophistication. After hearing the cows demands, Farmer Brown types up a letter of refusal. We next see a two-page spread of the long road to the barn. A white duck, oversized letter in beak and a left foot poised in the air, walks alone. The text reads, “Duck was a neutral party, so he brought the ultimatum to the cows”. I love using the term neutral party in a picture book. I love that extravagant and elaborate word “ultimatum” bandied about a barnyard tale. Every children’s book should be so lucky as to have a moment such as this.”
This book is a lot of fun, and should be used for a fun, lighthearted activity. Using the book for a story time with props (old farmer’s hat, typewriter, milk pail, bail of hay) might be a good idea. Then have the children come up with their own “demands” from animals not mentioned to add to the fun.