cover image Occasional Cow

Occasional Cow

Polly Horvath. Farrar Straus Giroux, $13.95 (131pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35559-3

Horvath's first novel is a flip and funny view of life in Iowa. Imogene, a New York City girl whose summer camp has just burned to the ground, is astonished when her parents decide to send her to her relatives' home in the Midwest. Imogene knows she will miss her good friend Edie, but quickly discovers that her Iowa cousins have their own brand of charm. They have several secret societies, go on information-gathering trips through the house's laundry chute, hope to teach their pigs to curtsy in time for the annual pig talent show and try to help Imogene into The Guinness Book of World Records by working on her chain of gum wrappers. Iowans may take issue with the decidedly screwball capers that are passed off as regional behavior, but the spirit of this anything-goes comedy is whole-hearted fun. Fiammenghi's black-and-white illustrations reinforce that point, for they are as exaggerated and comic as the story itself. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)