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Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good! hardcover Hardcover – September 10, 2007

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 5
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618809090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618809097
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Johnson chooses a glowing earth-tone palette...for his fine-tuned multimedia illustrations..." - Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

"Johnson's art is great...a sprightly scenario, full of quirky, quacky fun." Booklist 10/01/07 Booklist, ALA

Slightly cubist, cartoon-like illustrations in mixed media capture the lighthearted politics of this comic animal farm Kirkus Reviews

"Johnson...tackles another complex idea...The edgy, bright, mixed-media art uses stylized characters and panels to illustrate the action." SLJ November 2007 School Library Journal

"[A]n admirable story in itself." LMC January 2008 Library Media Connection

About the Author

D. B. Johnson has been a freelance illustrator for more than twenty years and has done editorial cartoons, comic strips, and conceptual illustrations for magazines and newspapers around the country. Mr. Johnson’s first picture book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, was a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly bestseller, as well as an American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.” Henry Hikes to Fitchburg also won numerous awards, including the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Picture Books and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Mr. Johnson and his wife, Linda, live in New Hampshire.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I remember the first time I saw this book. It was at an American Libraries Association meeting and I was strolling leisurely through the Houghton Mifflin booth on the convention floor. The order in which I noticed this book went through the following thought process: 1. Colors pretty. Oh look! It's D.B. Johnson. The guy who does those nutty Henry David Thoreau in bear form picture books. That's interesting. 2. The title. It appears to be "Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!". 3. Huh. 4. There is a pig on the cover. 5. Huh. 6. Oh my God. He didn't . . .

But in fact, ladies and gentlemen, he did. Yes, D.B. Johnson has given us an Animal Farm inspired bit of barnyard mayhem for the preschool set that is just the weirdest l'il ole creation ever to saunter down the pike. Filled with sly allusions and a plot that doesn't quite pull together, it's a great idea that didn't quite fulfill its picture book promise. I appreciate the in-jokes, but it takes more than shout-outs to make a book of this sort really work.

On a farm there are five animals. A horse, a cow, a goat, a duck, and a pig. The pig, as it happens, is named Orvie and he wears the boots. And since he can walk on two legs rather than four he is better than everyone else and gets to be the farmer. Duck quickly sees the flaw in this logic and points out to Orvie that she too has two legs. When confronted, Orvie claims that because he can do hard work, he is more worthy than duck to be the farmer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Fraser on April 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful twist on George Orwell's "Animal Farm" that will appeal to all
age groups. Unique and enjoyable. DB Johnson's artwork is always enchanting, and there is much to be gleaned from each illustration. A wonderful means for introducing children to Orwell.
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By Lise Miller on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've never read Animal Farm, so consider this review FRESH. As fresh as farm eggs.

This picture book is fantastic. It's inspiring, invigorating, and boisterous! I also love the integration of comics form (word bubbles, etc.) and the palate reminiscent of the best Pixar movies. In fact, this would make a great kids' film.

It has a slapstick quality kids will love. And it addresses issues of authority totally relevant to being a kid in an adults' world. Or a job holder in a corporate world. Or ALL people with the self-respect to want some say in their lives.

D.B. Johnson is the most refreshing and relevant voice in literature today.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly H on August 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Extremely awkward to read out loud. My husband and I both gave it a go, but each of us gave up halfway through and switched to another book for our daughter. I went back and finished it later, and it's an okay story. I just had a really hard time with the placement of the text all over each page. It was like playing hide-and-seek to find the text on some pages, let alone trying to figure out what order to read it in.

I love the Henry books by this author, but I wouldn't recommend this book.
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More About the Author

D.B. Johnson, one reviewer has written, "has brought down the curtain on the static picture book for children. With the recent publication of his Mother Nature Rhymes (iPad only for now), [Johnson] has singlehandedly transformed the picture book into a dynamic event. From now on, if it isn't interactive and doesn't have multimedia (animation and audio at least) as an ePub publication, it is just too too old hat. There are picture books aplenty with animation and audio today, but they must run inside dedicated apps which cost thousands of dollars to produce. [Johnson] has created an ePUb-formatted eBook that any writer or illustrator can assemble on their own with no greater cost than the software tools they are already using, plus an understanding of HTML5 and CSS--open-source web programming tools that are easy to learn. Authors can now independently and economically produce finished products and sell them directly to their readers. Mother Nature Rhymes consists of 15 two-page spreads, with an original rhyme on one page and an illustration on the facing page. Gentle sound effects accompany the gentle animations, as birds and butterflies fly between the pages, a robin on a swing is wooed by a red-eyed virago, and other aural and visual treats delight your little ones as you read them to sleep."
D. B. Johnson's most recent print book, Magritte's Marvelous Hat, was inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte and is filled with Magritte-like word puzzles and impossible pictures that will spark the imagination of both children and adults. The book includes four overlay pages that transform the pictures as the page is turned. In a starred review, School Library Journal says of Magritte's Marvelous Hat..."The artist's fascination with the limits of perception and two-dimensional representation provides mind-boggling images that children will relish. Johnson's additional layer of a hide-and-seek game and the inclusion of his own tricks offer more reasons to look closely. An author's note gives a brief context. Moving back and forth between this book and Magritte's art would be instructive and enjoyable for puzzle enthusiasts of any age. Beckoning, buoyant...brilliant."

D. B. Johnson's goal with each of his picture books is to draw children to the complex ideas in great works of literature and art. His first illustrated children's book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton Mifflin 2000), introduced one of his most endearing characters: Henry the bear. Henry is based on Henry David Thoreau, a nineteenth-century writer and philosopher who advocated a simple way of life, unencumbered by material possessions. Winner of several prestigious awards, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg "works on several levels," according to Booklist. "Johnson's adaptation of a paragraph taken from Thoreau's Walden ... illuminates the contrast between materialistic and naturalistic views of life without ranting or preaching."

In a starred review of the fifth book in his Henry series, Kirkus wrote: "From Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) on, Johnson has surpassed all conventional biographers in presenting Thoreau's philosophy and spirit in ways that will make sense to younger readers." Henry's Night is ..."a great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan."

In addition to his "Henry" books, Johnson has also created several other characters that have engaged young readers. In Eddie's Kingdom a young artist (inspired by the Quaker folk painter, Edward Hicks) draws a picture he hopes will bring an end to all the arguments he hears from the tenants sharing his apartment building. Another original picture book, Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!, takes place on a falling-down farm where Farmer Orvie, a pig, spends too much time napping to keep things in proper order. With simplicity and humor, Johnson adds a lively new chapter to George Orwell's classic, Animal Farm. And his 2010 picture book, Palazzo Inverso, introduced children to the topsy-turvy world of Dutch artist M. C. Escher. With what Booklist lauded as "an undeniably impressive bit of optical trickery," readers turned the book upside-down at the end and read all the way back to the beginning in an endless Escher-loop.

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Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good! hardcover
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