Take a trip to the farm as Maureen Wright, author ofBarnyard Fun, discusses the virtue of friendship.
In my latest book, Barnyard Fun, Sheep celebrates April Fool’s Day by playing practical jokes on the other farm animals. His friends get the last laugh when Horse shears Sheep to look like a poodle. When I read the book to groups of children, they laugh at the different scenes.
It’s fun for children to see themselves in different animal characters. Some may be the unsuspecting cow, others may be the mischievous sheep. But they can also see the big picture in the book--the fact that the animals are all friends having a silly time together. And I can always make out one child in the audience who has that certain gleam in his or her eye while I read the book. This child is busy thinking about the pranks he or she would like to do.
Reading Barnyard Fun to a child is the perfect opportunity to point out how the animals’ pranks aren’t mean-spirited or cruel, but all in good fun. These are jokes between friends, and the animals all remain friends because they don’t take themselves too seriously. I had the chance to show how silliness can be a good thing recently. I was at an assembly where the microphone was secured very tightly to the pole. With my usual grace, I pulled it off during my talk and hit myself square in the chin with the microphone. It made me laugh. It made the children laugh. We were off to a great start!
The animals in Barnyard Fun remain friends throughout the book, knowing that the pranks are all good-spirited. One of the reasons I like writing picture books is because I see how children use the books to envision themselves in various situations. I hope this book lets them see that no matter their personality, they can have lots of different types of friends and that some of the best friendships have great moments of silliness.