In the last two years, the literary world was stunned by two unexpected—indeed, unasked for—sequels to literary classics.
The first, 2015’s “Go Set a Watchman,” set off a firestorm of supposition whether the caretakers and publisher of the elderly Harper Lee were exploiting the “To Kill a Mockingbird” author in her twilight years.
The second, Discovery Kids’ “OINK on the Farm!” raises even more troubling questions.
2014’s “OINK,” picks up where Discovery Kids’ 2012 trilogy of “ROAR at the Zoo!” “RUMBLE with the Dinosaurs!” and, most directly, “MOOO on the Farm!” left off.
All are hefty tomes in appearance, but when inspected closer turn out to be, instead of many sheets of paper, six pieces of thick cardboard with colorful stock images of animals at play. All offer 10 buttons which, when pressed, elicit the sounds said animals make while at play.
In the delightful “ROAR,” we learned that the penguins say “Gwagh! Gwagh!” and the meerkats (which, we are told, “eat, sleep and play together”) say “Ra-ra, ra-ra, ra-ra!”
In the series’ brief foray into speculative fiction, “RUMBLE” taught us that the saurolophus went “GRRRRR!” and that icthyosaurus had huge eyes and very good hearing. Although the book was roundly criticized in literary circles for having both stegosaurus and brachiosaurus go “Munch!” this reviewer maintains that the ambition exhibited in “RUMBLE” can excuse some broad characterization of land herbivores.
“The tallest Trees are most in the Power of the Winds, and Ambitious Men of the Blasts of Fortune,” as William Penn reminds.
But it was in “MOOO on the Farm!” where the trilogy hit its greatest heights, and it is here where 2014’s “OINK” picks up.
Old favorites like chicken, sheep, pig and duckling reappear, but are joined by a new cast including sheepdog, tractor and turkey. Cow still says “Moo! Moo!” but where is rooster? Mouse? Baby donkey?
“Although I for one will not miss mouse (“These tiny creatures like to nibble berries, seeds, and insects” indeed, Discovery Kids), the omission of rooster and his contentious relationship with his fine feathers is troublesome to say the least.”
Character consistency is also an issues. In “MOOO,” the goat says “Meah!” but by the time “OINK” comes around, they now say “Maaa-aaa!”
Yes, you read that right. “Maaa-aaa!”
Although a workmanlike, if not inspired, adherent to tradition and three AG10 batteries, “OINK on the Farm!” is, in this reviewer’s eyes, a mercenary attempt to cash in on a beloved college classic. The sheep might say “Baa!” but this reviewer says “Blah!”
OINK on the Farm!
By Discovery Kids
6 pp. Parragon Books Ltd. $9.98 at the bargain books rack at the Barnes and Noble where all the smelly DePaul students hang out
Paul Dailing writes f’realsies at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons, a stab at literary journalism in the vein of the 1920s Chicago Daily News column “1001 Afternoons in Chicago.” He recently grew a beard, which he secretly thinks makes him look like Commander Riker.
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