cover image SIXTEEN COWS


Lisa Wheeler, , illus. by Kurt Cyrus. . Harcourt, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202676-9

Romance on the range is inevitable after a tornado destroys a fence and a cowgirl's eight cows mix with a cowboy's matching herd. But the neighbors don't take to each other right quick. Sue Waddle, who rides a palomino and twirls a mean lariat, tries to coax her Holsteins back to her property. " 'Don't mingle with those low-down cows,' she cried. 'That just won't do!'/ She broke into her come-home song... but Gene was singing, too." Gene Biddle, who drives an old-fashioned pickup and wears a big black hat, yells for his cattle and lures Sue's as well. The stubborn ranchers compete (" 'I'm singin' all my cows back home!'/ 'I'm singin' mine home, too!'/ And sixteen cows in unison responded with a 'Moo!' "), until they realize that they and their livestock are meant to be together. Cyrus (Oddhopper Opera) uses the horizontal layouts to good effect in expansive watercolors of the golden prairie, and he observes every detail of Gene's wood stove, Sue's buckskin duds and the udder-shaped latex-glove balloons at the wedding. But his galloping cows have more comic personality than the cowhands, whose melding of hearts takes place offstage. Still, Wheeler's (Wool Gathering: A Sheep Family Reunion) rubbery rhymes and humorous lists of cow-names keep the pages turning at a lively clip. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)