cover image I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!

I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!

Jill Esbaum, illus. by Gus Gordon. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3524-8

When readers meet Nadine, she’s positioning herself among her sister cows as possessing superhero-like courage: “ ‘Not lightning?’ asked Starla. ‘Loud noises? A rat?’/ ‘I’m not scared,’ Nadine boasted, ‘of any of that.’ ” Much to Nadine’s surprise, the cows insist she lead them on an expedition to the scary woods. The outing begins well enough, but after dark falls and Nadine’s fear gets the best of her, she turns the lack of witnesses to her advantage: “She was scared of the woods./ But so what? She could smile/ because nobody knew it./ (At least for a while.)” Gordon (Herman and Rosie), whose animal comedy is in the same goofy-yet-expertly-composed vein as Betsy Lewin and Nadine Bernard Westcott, combines watercolor, crayons, and pencil with witty collage touches; in one scene, Nadine and her friends climb a tree made entirely of taped-together strips of green paper. Esbaum’s (I Hatched!) breezy verse lesson, which essentially boils down to “Fake it ’til you make it,” is a refreshing, down-to-earth twist on oft-seen picture-book moralizing. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agent: Charlie Olson, InkWell Management. (May)