From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4—Duck and his comical cohorts return in another zany tale. Farmer Brown plans a Statue of Liberty maze for the annual Corn Maze Festival, enlisting (by bribe and threat) the reluctant help of his animal friends to see the project through. Before long, the chickens are constructing a fence, the cows are painting the barn, and Duck—curmudgeon extraordinaire—is furiously hammering out a ticket booth. As Farmer Brown busily sketches, measures, and mows by day, Duck keeps equally busy, sneaking into the cornfield every night armed with night-vision goggles, glow-in-the-dark ruler, and hedge clippers. Although the animals' various endeavors don't turn out as expected (the disasters are humorously depicted in the artwork), an undaunted Farmer Brown eagerly boards a hot-air balloon for an aerial view of his masterpiece during the opening ceremony. Along for the ride, a smug Duck is able to witness the man's priceless reaction to the nighttime design changes, which readers can view on a two-page fold-up. Once again, Cronin and Lewin get everything right, from the perfectly paced deadpan narrative, to the amusing characterizations, to the vibrant brush and watercolor cartoons that play off and extend the text's humor. Throughout the tale, the farm mice, who are taking a meteorology correspondence course, present weather-prediction charts that reflect the mood of the plot, gradually building from partly sunny skies to stormy climax. Fans will not be disappointed.—Joy Fleishhacker
, School Library Journal
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The creators of the immensely popular series that began with Caldecott Honor Book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2001) continue the story of Farmer Brown and his barnyard full of insubordinate animals. Here, Brown eagerly prepares for the annual Corn Maze Festival, and he invents Tom Sawyer–like tactics to convince the animals to lend a hoof or wing. Only Duck is unmoved, and it’s only after Farmer Brown threatens to withhold Duck’s favorite food that he finally agrees to help. Kids who know Duck from the first titles won’t be surprised at all that the wily bird only appears to be compliant; his secret revenge (a much-altered corn maze) is revealed in a final, laugh-out-loud gatefold illustration. Composed of short sentences printed in large type, the entertaining story is well suited to new readers, who will stretch for the few vocabulary words (meteorology, for example). Readers and listeners both will delight in Lewin’s typically comic bold-lined illustrations and in Farmer Brown’s folly, even as they (and their parents) recognize the familiar power struggles. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg