Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Particular Cow

A. Bibliography
Fox, Mem. 2006. A Particular Cow. Ill. by Terry Denton. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 9780152002503.

B. Plot Summary
One particular Saturday morning a particular cow goes for walk as is her habit. But on this particular morning, several things happen that are particularly unusual.

C. Critical Analysis
Mem Fox has given children's literature another enjoyable story sure to delight the younger set. Illustrator Terry Denton has drawn this particular cow and other characters with perpetual smiles even while becoming entangled in several mishaps with the particular cow. Children will appreciate the cartoon-like drawings with each page full of color.
In addition to the story's text are the extra comments spoken by each character in a cartoon dialog "balloon". Mem Fox's Australian language surfaces a little here with underwear being called "bloomers", but most phrases are easily understood as Australia's chief language is English. "Blimey!" spoken by the sailors could be left open to interpretation.
Children of all cultures can enjoy the antics of Fox's clumsy bovine.

D. Review Excerpts

School Library Journal –When a cow decides to take her usual Saturday constitutional, she accidentally steps through a clothesline and ends up with a pair of bloomers covering her head. Unable to see and running off in a panic, the poor bovine wreaks havoc as she falls into a postman's cart that heads down a long hill, followed by all the characters whose lives shes disrupted: the underwear's owner, the postman, some children, and a few yapping dogs. The chaos reaches a spectacularly hilarious conclusion when she crashes (literally) a wedding and flies off the end of a dock, landing in a passing boat, and the underwear blows back into its owners hands. The cow calmly steps ashore and goes about her usual business. The story is told with a dry wit and an economy of words, and the illustrations interpret the action with panache. Denton uses the spreads to distinct advantage as his bovine heroine careens and caroms from one potential disaster to the next. The cartoon illustrations bounce with energy and are suffused with warm colors. Udders and undies combine to make this funny read-aloud a sure hit.–Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI.

E. Connections

Compare Terry Denton's illustrations with photos of real cows.

Read Mem Fox's book Koala Lou to compare how another book by this Australian author describes another animal from Australia.

Other children's picture books about cows:

Weis, Carol: When the Cows Got Loose ISBN 0689851669

McNaughton, Colin: What Now, Cushie Butterfield? ISBN 0007154682

Korchek, Lori: Adventures of Cow ISBN 1582461392

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