cover image Fair Cow

Fair Cow

Leslie Helakoski, Marshall Cavendish, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7614-5684-1

Everybody loves a good makeover, but sometimes it’s smarter to leave well enough alone—a lesson that Effie, a cow who dreams of winning big at the state fair, learns the hard way. She makes the mistake of following the advice of a glamorous pig named Petunia, whose fancy pageant tips include losing weight and stiffening Effie’s tail with glue into a useless but sassy curlicue. Even then, Effie despairs of besting the other bovine divas at the fair—until she realizes that it’s truly contented cows that make award-winning milk. This is Helakoski’s (the Big Chickens books) first time as both writer and illustrator, and her energetic acrylic cartoons make it clear that she has plenty of talent of her own. Curiously, it’s the text that’s disappointing: her writing depends too much on uninspiring repetition to build momentum, and she never finds a compelling voice for Effie. While it’s a far cry from leaving a sour taste, it doesn’t feel like the idea has been milked for all it’s worth, either. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)