Great Illustrated Books

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

By Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Simon & Schuster, 2000
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 3-8
ISBN: 9781416903482

"Farmer Brown has a problem.
His cows love to type.
All day long he hears

Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.
Clickety, clack, moo."

Have you ever read a more absurd and hilarious first page of a picture book? The black-lined double-page watercolors of the big-nosed, white-bearded, straw-hatted, red-bandanna and denim-overalled Farmer Brown and his black and white, pink-nosed, smiling cows with their old-fashioned typewriter, not to mention 10 chickens and Duck, won Betsy Lewin her first Caldecott Honor, and no wonder. The paintings look so goofy and slapdash, but they're the height of bovine nirvana.

Farmer Brown can't believe his ears and his eyes when his cows post on the barn door a typed demand for electric blankets. "Cows that type? Impossible!" The farmer refuses to accede, so the cows go on strike. Their new note reads, "Sorry. We're closed. No milk today." Pretty soon, the demands escalate, with the chickens wanting electric blankets, too. They withhold their eggs. Farmer Brown is furious. "How can I run my farm with no milk and no eggs?" The frustrated old guy gets out his own typewriter and demands milk and eggs. Duck, a neutral party, brings the ultimatum to the cows, who hold an emergency meeting in the barn. Here is one of my favorite sentences ever: "All the animals gathered around the barn to snoop, but none of them could understand Moo." Cows and farmer hammer out a compromise. The cows will send Duck over with their typewriter in exchange for electric blankets. Farmer Brown agrees to it. Duck, of course, has a whole other plan.

For those of you adults who have ever been involved with any kind of job action at work, this book gives new meaning to terms like negotiation, compromise, and strongarm tactics. Note the back flap with the unsurprising tidbit that Doreen Cronin is an attorney (and now the author of many delectable picture books, including Diary of a Worm), who collects antique typewriters. Note, too, that your techno-hyped children may not know just what a typewriter is, so if you have one lurking in your barn, bring it out to demonstrate the click and the clack of the keys. Or just use the updated version, a computer keyboard. Don't be surprised if they start writing persuasive letters demanding more allowance, candy, and better vacations.

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If you love this book, then try:

Babcock, Chris. No Moon, No Milk. Crown, 1993.

Becker, Suzy. Manny's Cows: The Niagara Falls Tale. HarperCollins, 2006.

Choldenko, Gennifer. Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon. Hyperion, 1997.

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Worm. HarperCollins, 2003. (And others in the Diary series.)

Cronin, Doreen. Dooby Dooby Moo. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Cronin, Doreen. Duck for President. Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Cronin, Doreen. Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Simon & Schuster, 2002.

Cronin, Doreen. Thump, Quack, Moo: A Whacky Adventure. Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Cronin, Doreen. Wiggle. Atheneum, 2005.

Demuth, Patricia Brennan. The Ornery Morning. Dutton, 1991.

Doyle, Malachy. Cow. McElderry, 2002.

Egan, Tim. Metropolitan Cow. Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Egan, Tim. Serious Farm. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

Feiffer, Jules. Bark, George. HarperCollins, 1999.

Himmelman, John. Chickens to the Rescue. Henry Holt, 2006.

Johnson, Paul Brett. The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down. Orchard, 1993.

Kirby, David, and Allen Woodman. The Cows Are Going to Paris. Caroline House, 1991.

Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Punk Farm. Knopf, 2005.

Palatini, Margie. Moo Who? HarperCollins, 2004.

Rostoker-Gruber, Karen. Rooster Can't Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo. Dial, 2004.

Shannon, David. Duck on a Bike. Scholastic, 2002.

Speed, Toby. Two Cool Cows. Putnam, 1995.

Vail, Rachel. Over the Moon. Orchard, 1998.

Waddell, Martin. Farmer Duck. Candlewick, 1992.

Willems, Mo. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Hyperion, 2003.

Critics have said

Cronin humorously turns the tables on conventional barnyard dynamics; Lewin's bold, loose-lined watercolors set a light and easygoing mood that matches Farmer Brown's very funny predicament. Kids and underdogs everywhere will cheer for the clever critters that calmly and politely stand up for their rights, while their human caretaker becomes more and more unglued.
Publishers Weekly