One Little Goat (Ursula Dubosarsky, illus by Andrew Joyner, Little Hare)
Goats are the new ducks, it would seem, as the successful team of Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner (The Terrible Plop, Too Many Elephants) reunite for another round of inventive nonsense verse for pre-schoolers in One Little Goat. No sooner has a little girl received her titular four-legged gift from her father than the goat is swallowed whole by a ginger cat—setting off a chain of calamities, each taking the baby goat further from its startled owner. With a touch of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, One Little Goat piles calamity upon small disaster as a dog, a stick, fire, water, a buffalo, a butcher and more seek to capitalise on the chaos. Repetition and a drumming rhythm are the text’s essential ingredients, while Joyner’s familiar retro-styled images bring the snap and crackle to match each twist and turn in the rhyme. (It also needs to be said that the baby goat is quite adorable.) Joyner tucks away small clues in the background that foreshadow the action, which will reward repeated readings. Dubosarsky’s energetic tongue-twister of a poem has a propulsive energy that wraps itself up in a satisfying conclusion, with balance restored and the little baby goat returned to its proper owner.
Mike Shuttleworth is the program manager for the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance