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Top 100 Picture Books #39: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

#39 Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin (2000)
43 points

Si, se puede!  Yes they can!  When Labor Day rolls around and I need to make a labor-related book display (oh yeah, that’s how I roll) what do I like to pull out?  Nothing short of the old Click, Clack, Moo.  We’ve talked about how a lot of the books on this list make for good readalouds, but this book is, for me, a staple.  I sometimes forget how good it is too.  So simple.  So perfect.  “The duck was a neutral party.”  How you top sentences like that?

Children’s Literature described the plot as, ” ‘Cows that type? Impossible!’ That’s what Farmer Brown thinks when he first hears the ‘click, clack’ from the barn, but then he reads the note the cows write him. All they want is electric blankets for the cold barn. When he refuses, they go on strike. What’s worse for the farmer is that the strike spreads to the cold hens as well. Duck finally negotiates a compromise. Unfortunately for Farmer Brown, the ducks have learned from all this, leaving us with a smile at the ending.”

Yup.  It’s a picture book about the man keeping you down.  I wish I could remember whether or not it appears in Tales for Little Rebels (no index) or I’d quote you some good old-fashioned union politics as well.  Ah well.  For now we’ll just have to leave it at “really good story” and be satisfied with that.  Eventually the duck would come to rule the series, but in this tale he has a relatively understated (comically so) role.

Some folks have told me that the book is outdated because kids don’t know what typewriters are anymore.  You say outdated, I say classic.  Even if you don’t initially recognize what a typewriter is, it explains itself pretty well right from the start.  Besides, if it were a laptop then the title might have been Tip, Tap, Moo and that’s far less interesting.

Publishers Weekly said of it, “Kids and underdogs everywhere will cheer for the clever critters that calmly and politely stand up for their rights, while their human caretaker becomes more and more unglued.”

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Kids don’t know what a typewriter is? Send ’em to Kalamazoo — our wonderful children’s bookstore, The Bookbug, keeps one on the counter for folks to poke. Click, clack!

  2. Someone gave this to us in board book version and I read it to our baby all the time. It makes me chuckle. The other day, I overheard my wonderfully logical husband explaining to our 3-month old how he would do things differently if he was the farmer. teehee

  3. My girls laughed through the entire book the first time my husband read it to them, and then my husband almost fell off his seat with laughter when he got to the last page. A favorite for EVERYONE in our family!