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BARNYARD SLAM by Dian Curtis Regan Kirkus Star


by Dian Curtis Regan and illustrated by Paul Meisel

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8234-1907-4
Publisher: Holiday House

Behind closed barn doors, boisterous farm animals perform at an open-mike poetry slam. While the mouse serves as the lookout for the farm family, the creative cast fights for the spotlight. Hosted by bossy Yo Mama Goose, each character presents an original poem, often drawing on classic and contemporary literature for inspiration. The cow disputes bovine myths promulgated by familiar nursery rhymes, and the lamb channels Dr. Seuss. The haughty host repeatedly interjects her flowery poem until the performance is disrupted. Witty wordplay and abundant puns pepper the animals’ speech. The annoyed turkey protests, “I did not think your sign, / Be There or Be-Headed, is funny. / It stopped me cold turkey.” Quickly shifting the focus to each performer, the story depends more on zinging punchlines than descriptive narrative; action rapidly builds through targeted one-liners. Meisel’s pencil-and-watercolor double-page spreads feature soft colors and thin lines, emphasizing the dialogue’s comedic elements. Anthropomorphized cartoon characters wear bandanas and sit cross-legged on hay; their wide-eyed expressions enhance the humorous tension. The successful result is high-spirited, lighthearted barnyard banter. (Picture book. 4-8)