cover image Metropolitan Cow CL

Metropolitan Cow CL

Tim Egan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-73096-6

In a scenic art-deco city, pigs collect tickets from movie-going cows, and a generous cow gives coins to some piggy street musicians. This social hierarchy remains unquestioned until Bennett, a lonely calf, makes friends with his porcine neighbor, Webster. Both are too young to know any better, though Bennett's father harrumphs, ""Frankly, Bennett, it's a little unusual for a cow to be playing with a pig."" Yet after Bennett's irresistible urge to play in the mud brings his and Webster's families together, they realize they have a lot in common: ""They all liked the same music and the same books. And they all were vegetarians."" Egan revisits the tolerance theme of his Friday Night at Hodges' Cafe, and although his message is somewhat clicheed, his dry, measured narration rescues the story. His watercolor-and-ink illustrations are composed with an eye for balance, and his sophisticated palette of pine green, burgundy and creamy yellow conveys the cows' celebrated ""dignity."" The grand apartment buildings and the animals' dapper dress suggest prewar New York; 20-cent pretzels and Webster's porkpie hat reinforce the nostalgic motif. Egan tends to moralize, but his artfully detailed spreads makes the symbolism easy to swallow. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)