This is another title from Margaret Wise Brown, the author of "Good Night Moon," and, much like that classic... or modern art... it makes one think: "I could do that." Especially when one considers that the author did not also draw the pictures. Then again, had I written that book, or been Jackson Pollock, you would probably have to pay for this blog, and I would not have to worry about work.
"Big Red Barn" is a list book, much like "Good Night Moon." I won't be giving anything away if I tell you that it takes place in a barnyard. There are no humans, nor are there any human dwellings, so one must assume that the animals are all self-feeders, self-cleaners, and that they exist in a sort of Orwellian society, except without the allegory and Stalinist overtones. Small humans are alluded to, in that they sometimes play in the hay, but, conveniently, "the children are away."
I suspect that the illustrator cannot draw people, especially the hands.
The cast of characters offers no surprises, nor do their activities, which would prepare one for a visit to an idyllic farm, but do not make for a riveting tale. However, as this was originally published in 1956, and modern American children are not even aware that carrots grow in the ground, it may be quite interesting to an older child who will most likely only see these animals in a petting zoo.
The only action occurs when is a field mouse is born in the first quarter of the tale (there are no graphic illustrations). It's nail-biting Drama. But it, too, is not realistic. How often is a single field mouse born?
Pigs, horses, sheep, donkey, geese, goats, roosters, chickens, pigeons, cows, cats, and dogs all live together in or near the big red barn, blithely unaware of the fact that some of them are ham, some are Christmas dinner in a Dickens novel, some are for roasting, some are steak, and some are never to be fertilized. At least on a real farm. There is a cat and her kittens as well as a tomcat. Of course, on a real farm, if the tomcat were not the father of the kittens, he would probably kill them. This is not mentioned.
There is much frolicking in the fields, mud, and hay. All the live long day.
Until it becomes dark, and they all put themselves to bed. At which time, we return to the dangling story of the mice, who appear to be fine, as they are playing in the hay.
All in all, "Big Red Barn" is a colorful book, with simple words and phrases, that is probably only suitable for children.