Prather's Pick: 'Click, Clack, Boo!' a frightfully fun book for kids

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Diane Prather

— In 2000, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin teamed up to produce “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type” — a children’s picture book that proved to be very popular. Cronin was the book’s author, and Lewin was the illustrator. The book won a Caldecott Honor for its artwork.

It’s a funny book about a bunch of cows that find a typewriter and put it to good use, typing up demands for Farmer Brown. They want electric blankets for the animals in the barn. The cows get the chickens involved, too, and they go on strike — no milk or eggs until they get the blankets. A white duck is the go-between.

Children especially enjoy the repetitive words used in the book. They enjoy repeating “Click, clack, moo” over and over.

Cronin and Lewin followed up with more books about the antics from Farmer Brown’s barn, with the duck at the center of it all. Included are “Giggle, Giggle, Quack,” “Thump, Quack, Moo” and even “Duck for President.” And now, there’s a brand-new picture book, just in time for Halloween.

As “Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat” begins, Farmer Brown is sitting on a jack-o’-lantern in the middle of a field. Some chickens are eating corn kernels — maybe even candy corn — that’s scattered around the farmer. The jack-o’-lantern’s carved face is rather dejected, and that goes for Farmer Brown’s face, too. The farmer does not like Halloween!

The farmer doesn’t like witches, pirates or spooky shadows. So when evening comes, the farmer puts a bowl of candy out on the porch, locks the door and pulls down the shades. He even puts up a “Do not disturb” sign.

Meanwhile, things are jumping in the barn. A pig stands on a ladder, hanging up some bat, cat and spider decorations. A jack-o’-lantern — with a smiling face — and a tub of apples for bobbing all are ready for the Halloween party. The chickens are dressed in ghost costumes, and the duck puts a black hat on each of the sheep’s heads. A cow wears a skeleton costume that has been buttoned under her head.

A sign on the barn wall lists the prizes: most candy eaten, scariest boo, loudest scream and best costume.

Some mice are dressed in fancy princess gowns and wear tiaras and crowns. Their feet make “crunch, crunch” sounds as they walk over fallen leaves on their way to the party.

Back at the farmhouse, Farmer Brown gets ready for bed. From the upstairs window, he can see a dark creature standing beneath a tree. (Who is this mysterious creature? An observant reader will figure it out.) The farmer wastes no time in getting ready for bed. He climbs under the covers — way under the covers!

Farmer Brown hears the crunching of leaves as someone heads for the house. Then there’s the creaking of boards on the porch and a tapping on the front door. And then there’s another sound — one that makes the farmer jump right out of bed! There’s a surprise ending to this story.

Children will enjoy the lively words used to describe the Halloween goings-on at Farmer Brown’s barnyard, including the “creak, creak, creaking,’ “crunch, crunch, crunching” and more as the words are repeated during the story.

As with all of the other Cronin and Lewin books, this one is sure to be a hit with children and the adults who read it to them.

“Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat” is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2013). It costs about $16.99 in hardcover. It’s a brand-new book in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library. I ordered my book from Downtown Books.

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