Click, Clack, Moo mixes the absurd with the real-life drama of workers’ rights, gender inequality, and the cattle and chicken industries.
It is of course reminiscent of Animal Farm by George Orwell, but this book which is in picture book format and even comes in board book, was clearly intended for young children.
The cows discover a typewriter and use it to write a note to the farmer asking him for electric blankets. The typewriter becomes a symbol of power, much like a weapon. The chickens are also cold so the cows write a note to the farmer for them as well. It’s unclear why the chickens do not write their own note. Perhaps the cows did not want to share the typewriter and do not fully trust the chickens despite them being in roughly the same position in society.
Farmer Brown appears to be an old, white man and thinks giving them electric blankets is absurd because they’re animals.
The cows and chickens go on strike. No milk. No eggs. This means the only women in this story are oppressed animals; a metaphor for how women are seen in real life.
Farmer Brown thinks the strike is absurd too.
The cows and chickens have said what they need. They’ve made a strong move by going on strike and it’s still not working. It wouldn’t have worked for real life cattle and poultry either.
They can only have electric blankets if they give up their typewriter. Their power. It’s presented as a happy ending, but it’s actually quite dark. The animals don’t have a voice anymore. They had to choose between that and risking freezing to death.
There is a third kind of animal who’s presented as a neutral party: the ducks. They act as a messenger between Farmer Brown and the other animals. At the end they see their opportunity to use the typewriter to ask for a diving board. While the other animals are freezing in a barn the ducks are bored at the pond. There is no mention of the ducks having to go on strike. They get their diving board with apparently no fuss from the farmer. The ducks appear quite frivolous and opportunistic as compared to the other animals.
A thought-provoking picture book that comes with silly sounds and cute illustrations to distract you from the darker messages it contains.