It's springtime, and Farmer Brown is shearing his sheep: "Clip-clip, buzz-buzz, / He took their wool and left them fuzz." Naked, the pink-cheeked sheep begin to shiver as the temperature drops. They watch in dismay when Farmer Brown gathers up the bags of wool to deliver to Mr. Greene, who cleans and cards it. "'BAAA!' they cried. 'We want it back!'" But their bleating is to no avail. Farmer Brown continues on his rounds, visiting the yarn spinner and the dyer before he finally realizes that his poor lambs are frigidly following him. He scurries back to his farm and sets to work--knitting each one a bright, colorful sweater!
The third in the Farmer Brown series, after Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round and The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown, this "yarn about wool" is as charmingly silly as its predecessors. Children can learn about the process of turning wool into the yarn that becomes the sweaters on their backs, while sympathizing with the somewhat ineffective sheep who must become all tangled up in yarn before clueless Farmer Brown catches on to their plight. However, never let it be said that Farmer Brown doesn't have a heart. His magnanimous solution to the sheep's situation teaches a perfectly palatable lesson in thoughtfulness. Nadine Bernard Westcott's stubbly-chinned Farmer Brown and rosy-bottomed sheep are positively huggable. (Ages 4 to 7) --Emilie Coulter
PreSchool-Grade 2-Bouncy verse takes readers right into a common rural scene: "Farmer Brown was shearing sheep,/Piling up a snowy heap/Of wool that filled his shed, knee-deep." Meanwhile, the silly illustrations hint at a story that is anything but ordinary: unshorn sheep are huddled together in wide-eyed dread, while those who have been buzzed are shivering. The cold creatures want their wool back and follow Farmer Brown as he takes it from place to place to have it washed, combed, carded, spun, and dyed until he finally takes pity on them and "Knit-purl, knit-purl,/The farmer's fingers looped and twirled" and he creates colorful sweaters for each one. "Now each year, come shearing time,/The sheep wait eagerly in line/To feel the clip and hear the buzz,/And wear bright sweaters over fuzz." The consistently cheerful and unstrained rhyme spins a great yarn, and at the same time pleasantly conveys facts about wool processing. Westcott's characteristically humorous watercolor cartoons will evoke a few giggles as the bare sheep peek in windows, chase the farmer, get tangled in the yarn, and finally warm up in their cozy sweaters. Pair this lighthearted romp with this creative team's Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round (DK Ink, 1999) and The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown (Orchard, 1995).
Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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