May 2002

Strange behavior in the barnyard

By Carolyn Fisher
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Hold onto your hats, your livestock and your wits! A twister has landed, and it's a whopper. Carolyn Fisher's lively romp into the life of Bailey Tarbell, a red-headed farm girl, and her experience with a rather unusual cyclone is sure to tickle the funny bone of any reader.

A Twisted Tale is reminiscent of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Jules Feiffer's Bark, George. Bailey takes care of a cow, a cat, a dog, a duck, three chickens and a pig. When a storm unexpectedly blows up, the force pulls all the animals into the air, and then that twister spat out the critters like a cowpoke spits out a wad of chew. It seems as if the twister has done more than spin the critters around; it has them all discombobulated! The pig tries to swim and quack, the duck chews its cud . . . you get the idea.

If the over-the-top, humorous language and wacky scenarios aren't enough to drag a laugh out of you, the wild, colorful, naive paintings are sure to do the trick. First, there is Bailey appearing 10 times the size of a John Deere tractor. Then, Bailey's parents are dead ringers for the couple made famous by Grant Wood in his painting American Gothic. The careful reader will see those Grant Wood parents sitting in a nest, chewing on a bone, performing hypnosis, riding a Ferris wheel and driving a car.

Well, Bailey is not a stupid girl; she knows these animals have to return to normal. When the veterinarian is unable to fix the livestock, Bailey takes matters into her own hands. She and her obliging parents try to teach the animals appropriate behavior a failed idea. Then, she hires a psychologist is that the great Dr. Freud? but hypnosis does not work, either.

Inspired in the bathtub as she watches the water swirl down the drain, Bailey finally has the idea she thinks will do the trick. Eureka! Yup, she takes the whole kit and caboodle to the State Fair, where the animals and family spin around on the various rides until they are back to normal. Problem solved; at least the livestock seem okay. But what are those words falling from Bailey's mouth? While her parents are whooping a jolly Ooo-Wee, Bailey emits a big Wee-ooooo! We are left knowing that an enterprising young'un like Bailey will figure this out for herself. Lots of fun for everyone.

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A Twisted Tale

A Twisted Tale

By Carolyn Fisher
ISBN 9780375815409

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