September 08, 2021

The Cow Said Boo!

Written by Lana Button
Illustrated by Alice Carter
Pajama Press
28 pp.
Ages 4-7
September 2021

The cow says, "Moo." Every child knows that. But what does it sound like with a stuffy nose? Disastrously, this cow learns that it's "Boo!"
From The Cow Said Boo! by Lana Button, illus. by Alice Carter
Judging by the falling leaves and the ripe pumpkins on the ground, the cow has caught a cold in the autumn. Clutching her tissue box and stumbling around in misery, she crashes into a clothesline from which a white sheet falls and shrouds the poorly cow.
From The Cow Said Boo! by Lana Button, illus. by Alice Carter
When she approaches the other farm animals–a goat, a cat, a horse, a rooster and a pig–at breakfast, her "Boo!" and sheet-covered form sends them into a tizzy, convinced the farm is haunted.

Saddened, the cow goes off by herself to rest and recuperate. But as the other animals sleep, except for the infirmed cow, a fox sneaks onto the farm. Knowing she must do something to save her friends, she uses her altered voice and sheet disguise to scare it away, and become the hero they needed, even if she says, "Boo!"
From The Cow Said Boo! by Lana Button, illus. by Alice Carter
Lana Button gives us a story in which a difficulty becomes a blessing, reminding young readers that face-value is just that. Sure, the cow looked like a ghost and frightened her friends with her nasally voice but she used that to her advantage to help her farm pals in the end. Ultimately, they appreciate her efforts, cheering her and even nursing her back to health, though they all catch their own colds and speak with transformed voices. (They would be wise to follow the illustrated instructions on the back end-papers for scaring away colds by washing hands.) Lana Button gives us some silliness and some wisdom, a great way for young children to learn important lessons like how to keep colds at bay and not being too quick to judge.

Ottawa's Alice Carter created her art with coloured pencils, watercolour and digital media to give The Cow Said Boo! the simplicity and mischievousness that speaks to young children. They know about getting colds and how it feels but Alice Carter makes it more goofy than ridiculous and definitely less miserable than the common cold. From her blue skies and sickly yellow green fields–yes, sickly is a colour–there's some subtle messaging but the animals are the stars with their brightly-hued coats and cartoonish faces and forms. Moreover, because young children are familiar with animals and their sounds, especially on farms–even if they've never visited a rural community–Alice Carter's depictions of Lana Button's characters will make them smile.

The cow may have had the misfortune to get a cold but she had the good fortune to turn it into a lucky break for her friends, even if they'll be in bed sneezing and coughing soon enough too.

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