Feb 23, 2013

Mommies Say Shh!

by Patricia Polacco

This lovely little book has all kinds of farm animals romping across the pages. Their noises are introduced, and the rabbits are often repeated with the phrase: bunnies say nothing at all. At the very end all the animals make their noises together (the bunnies again say nothing) and a mother with a baby shushes them. The pictures are so rich and lively that's really what makes this book. Each spread has literally swarms of ducks, cats, geese, rabbits, goats, dogs or whatever animal is featured. In quite a few pictures little bunnies are peeking out of the girls' pockets, a detail I didn't notice until my toddler pointed it out with delight. What's really funny is that some of the animals are running or leaping so exuberantly that their backs are bent in a u shape with the heels flung high above the head. This looks almost believable with the little bunnies and leaping squirrels, a bit silly with the dogs, and absolutely ridiculous with a cow!
I'm fairly certain the original was published in another language; as the dogs don't say woof or ruff but buff buff. What's odd is that I can't find the source language of buff buff even though I looked. There are quite a few interesting lists online that show how onomatopoeias vary across many different languages, the most extensive one being on wikipedia, but I couldn't find this dog sound anywhere. (There's another interesting article about dog sounds in different languages here). I think the author is Russian; the costumes of the darling girls and other people on the pages have a definite flair with beautiful patterns and colors.

Incidentally, I saw a few books by Polacco featured on Rabbit Ears Book Blog before I wrote this, and thought the illustrations looked awfully familiar. I went and pulled this book off my daughter's shelf and for sure, it was the same artist. Now that I know she writes books for older kids too (and they look excellent) I'll be sure to look for them when mine is a bit older.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 32 pages, 2005

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