Cronin, Doreen. 2006. DOOBY DOOBY MOO. Ill. By Betsy Lewin. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0689845073
Farmer Brown and his farm animals have an interesting relationship. In this humorous picture book, he keeps tabs on them by creeping out to the barn each night to make sure they are sleeping soundly, and not causing trouble. Every night, he hears the same sounds. The farm animals, in their turn, look for ways to stay entertained. The plot thickens when Duck finds an ad for a talent show in Farmer Brown’s paper, and musters the other barn animals to practice their talents. Farmer brown gets so suspicious that he refuses to let them out of his sight, and brings them with him to the county fair—where the talent show is being hosted. Farmer Brown never learns what the animals were planning, though the sounds he hears in the barn at night have changed at the end of the book.
In this humorous story, the illustrations are vital to fully understanding the development of the plot. For example, without seeing the hole in Farmer Brown’s newspaper where the Talent Show Advertisement used to be, the reader would not fully understand how Farmer Brown knows the animals are up to something. Color-saturated and cartoonish illustrations also add interest to a sparsely worded storyline, showing the different ways in which Farmer Brown keeps an eye on his animals, and explaining why the animals’ much-echoed onomatopoeia of “Dooby, dooby moo…,” has changed after the talent show.
The authors’ use of two separate points of view throughout the book show the reader how a single event can be interpreted in different ways, depending on which side of the barn door the observer is standing. The multiple points of view also create the drama that develops between the animals’ determination to win first prize, and Farmer Brown’s frustration at not knowing what the animals are plotting.
This children’s story is also unusual in that the events taking place are often implied rather than explained by the text. The moral of the story appears when Duck, who has been the driving force behind all the hard work that goes into winning first prize, finally takes the stage himself and brings down the house. Readers are not sure if he has won, however, until the last page of the book, where the new noises coming from the barn are explained—“Dooby, dooby BOING!”
A great opportunity for young readers, this book offers a big reward for the effort put into reading it. The close relationship between illustrations and storyline are also beneficial to carrying the reader from page to page and encouraging cognitive reasoning. The humor of the situation is wonderfully evident throughout.
School Library Journal: “Some of the sophisticated humor will go over the heads of most children…[but] this story makes a great read-aloud.”
==> The latest in a series of stories illustrating the humorous and frustrating relationship between Farmer Brown and his Animals, readers will recognize the characters and their conflict from other stories by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.
==> This book encourages younger readers to stretch their wings. A great opportunity for children to practice reading on their own or to a friend.
==> Use this book to illustrate the idea of “perspective.” Encourage children to tell or write about their own experiences in which they thought they heard one thing, but found out later that it was something else.
==> This book would also be a great one for sparking classroom discussions about hard work, practice, and helpful criticism—especially in relation to extracurricular activities such as dance, music, or sports.