cover image The Cow Who Clucked

The Cow Who Clucked

Denise Fleming, Author . Holt $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-726

Fleming's (Barnyard Banter ) signature cotton fiber illustrations are as sumptuous as ever in this tale of a farmyard mix-up. For reasons not revealed, Cow wakes up "to find she had lost her moo." But who has her moo? None of the usual suspects pans out—although Cow's quest gives readers the opportunity to make a number of crowd-pleasing sounds, plus Cow's catchy refrain: "It is not you who has my moo." Not until the end of a disappointing day does Cow discover that one of the chickens sounds distinctly unchicken-y. "Hen!" Cow shouts. "It is you who has my moo !" Sounds are mysteriously exchanged and order is restored under starry rural skies. Rich, unusual textures and luxuriant colors, long Fleming's hallmark, here combine in a way that makes every composition feel positively indulgent. Cow, rendered in chocolate brown accented in electric red and ultramarine, seems like a celebration of all things bovine; even the tiny yellow birds and skinny green snake take on a luminous presence, as if put on the page to remind the audience of just how wonderful the world is. Will readers be frustrated by the lack of explanation for the story's premise and conclusion? Perhaps—then again, these pages could be seen as a gorgeous launching pad for a question every youngster savors answering: "What do you think happened?" Ages 4-8. (Aug.)