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Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!    by D. B. Johnson order for
Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!
by D. B. Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Houghton Mifflin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

It's been a number of years since I've read George Orwell's Animal Farm, but the title of this children's picture book refers to lines in that classic book about revolution, but in reverse; in the original, the lines uttered were Four Legs Good, Two Legs BadFour Legs Bad, Two Legs Good! tells the story of what happens when a power-hungry pig/farmer forces everyone to do his work for him.

Orvie is a two-legged pig who has designated himself farmer. While he sits against the barn, he demands that the other animals serve his every need, including swatting the flies from his nose and scratching his ears. A sign posted on the side of barn saying 'All Animals Are Equal' is crossed out, and replaced by a sign that says, '4 Legs Bad, 2 Legs Good.'  Of course, all the four-legged creatures are offended. They quickly realize that by spending so much time focusing on the needs of Orvie, they are not getting a fair deal. Rebellion is in the air!

Orvie tries to convince the rest of the animals that only two-legged creatures can rule the barnyard, so Duck uses all of his wiles to get Orvie to relinquish his power and let someone else have a turn. Duck, with help from the rest of the animals, captures Orvie and the animals finally get the break they deserve. In the last scene, Duck is painting a new sign on the barn that says, '18 Legs Best.'

I am sure Animal Farm devotees could find more subtle - and perhaps not-so-subtle - references to the beloved classic. A famous quote from the novel reprinted on the back cover is a means for inciting discussion: 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.' The Picasso-esque illustrations are angular, chiseled and almost collage-like in effect. When viewed in the context of Animal Farm, this is a pretty interesting picture book.

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