cover image COW


Malachy Doyle, , illus. by Angelo Rinaldi. . S&S/McElderry, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84462-1

A day in the life of a dairy cow is the centerpiece of this handsome and leisurely paced picture book. From dawn breaking in the dew-moistened meadow to a walk back into the field at dusk, Doyle (The Bold Boy) describes the cow's routine—eating, resting and dutifully submitting to a milking machine—in lulling, second-person text: "Your hooves click on the floor of the yard, the gate opens, and you enter the stall"; "The day warms up, and your breath comes hot and heavy from your broad, wet nose." The author offers occasional glimpses of the farmer and his children ("The children come to swing from the tree. Out over the river") but remains intent on the cow's experience ("You wait by the gate... your milk-full udders aching"). As fine complement, Rinaldi's (Rainy Day) elegantly rendered, photo-realistic oil paintings convey subtle changes in sunlight and shadow; his cows seem so lifelike that readers can almost hear the flies buzzing around them. A departure from the whimsical, Old MacDonald/ Click Clack Moo–style farms typically found in children's stories, this bucolic offering has sure educational value, but it may be realistic to a fault—the monotony of the cow's existence seems unlikely to invite repeat readings. Ages 5-9. (July)