cover image Audrey (Cow)

Audrey (Cow)

Dan Bar-el, illus. by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. Tundra, $19.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-77049-

More than 30 voices, both animal and human, contribute to this cleverly constructed story of a cow bound, like her mother before her, for the abattoir (or “Abbot’s war” as the animals of Bittersweet Farm call it). Framing the story as a series of interviews, Bar-el (Nine Words Max) creates a humorous chorus of perspectives, temperaments, dialects, and cadences. A dreamer and a poet, Audrey refuses to accept that she’s headed “straight to the meat section of the supermarket” and becomes determined to flee the farm. With the help of her barnyard friends—including a clever dog, a “master strategist” pig, bickering geese, a pompous rooster, and a nosy horse—Audrey pulls off a comically orchestrated escape, aka “Operation Urgent Fury.” As a bumbling reporter and a wildlife enforcement officer follow her trail, Audrey relies on forest animals to elude capture and find her happy ending. Mai-Wyss’s (A Giraffe Did One) b&w watercolors bolster the lighthearted atmosphere of this thoroughly charming story of a cow determined to chart her own destiny, inspired by an actual incident. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. (Nov.)