In preparation for Sandra Boyton's birthday this week, I read through my post from last year's birthday celebration when we made sock puppets for her song and short film One Shoe Blues (look for the post below). I ended the post by asking, "The question is where will she go next? More music? More film? Or something completely new?" This year's celebration brought something completely new for Boynton, the successful author, illustrator, music writer, greeting card designer, etc. In November 2010, she published, Amazing Cows: Udder Absurdity for Children, a book that is great for "all ages up to a hundred and moo." In this book, Boynton brings her humor and animal illustrations to a slightly older audience than her beloved board books. Now children who once loved listening and reading Boynton board books will be able to enjoy more of her zaniness as they advance in their reading.
My children and I really enjoyed Amazing Cows which is filled with cow knock-knock jokes, silly stories about cows, cow limericks, funny full-page spreads that feature cows, and even a comic book cow adventure. Our favorite story was "Cow Story" in which 137 cows and a few chickens play Red Rover. My children loved the names of the 137 cows (don't worry the list isn't as long as you would initially think because 80 of the cows are named Tino, which ends up being very interesting in the game Red Rover :) The book is listed as having a reading level focused for 4-8 year olds, yet some of the humor sailed right over the head of my 5 year old daughter. (Yet, if you were to ask her she would probably tell you that she understood all the jokes!) I was also left wondering if Boynton's "Amazing" Cows were long lost cousins of the "Remarkable" Cows from her song Cows onPhiladelphia Chickens. All the cow silliness was enough to make us laugh out loud when we read the book before bedtime.
I was able to make a personal connection with Sandra's cow theme, as I have had many experiences with cows in my life. My aunt and uncle own a dairy farm where I spent a lot of time growing up. I can still remember rounding up the cows while riding along with my cousin as he drove the tractor, feeding baby calves from a bottle, watching a calf being born, and of course walking through manure. But, the funniest memory of a cow involves my son. Last year, we were on a preschool field at a pumpkin farm with his class. There was a small petting farm with many calves. My son, two at the time, was watching me give a bottle to a calf named Oreo. The calf was very enthusiastic about the bottle and was slobbering frothy milk all over the place. My son was very excited to see the cow close up and we soon learned that apparently the cow was happy to see him too. My son got a bit too close, and the cow wanted to share his affection with a big, sloppy smooch!