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  • 2009 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award

    The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill, illustrated by Russell Ayto, and published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.

    Cow That Laid an EggMarjorie, a Holstein cow, feels very ordinary. She’s not able to do handstands or ride bicycles like the other cows. Wanting to help Marjorie feel better, the chickens “hatched a cunning plan.” The next morning Marjorie shrieks that she has laid an egg! The large size font and Marjorie’s wide open mouth emphasize the amazing feat of laying the Holstein-spotted egg. All the farm’s creatures are astonished and the farmer’s wife even calls the newspaper. People arrive by car, bus, helicopter, and balloon to view the extraordinary cow and her egg, much like the hype caused by Charlotte writing in her spider web. The jealous cows, however, get suspicious and tell Marjorie that the chickens laid her egg. Time passes while Marjorie sits on her egg, until finally a “small, brown, feathery bundle” hatches. It might look like a chicken, but Marjorie is vindicated when the creature opens its mouth wide and moos like a cow!

    The book’s art and design pleased children. The jacket cover shows Marjorie admiring her spotted egg, while the cover and endpapers are decorated with Holstein spots. The cartoon style mixed media illustrations in pen and ink, watercolor, and collage fit perfectly with this humorous award-winning story.

    The book appealed to two-year-olds through third graders who made many comments about the funny story and pictures. The story invited participation, as children “clucked” with the chickens and “mooed” with Marjorie and her offspring. One third grade teacher commented that the students moved their chairs very close to the book and added: “It’s fun, humorous, and adds a lighter side to daily reading. Students sat very still, as if not to miss a word.” One second grader offered a reality check: “Cows are mammals and mammals don’t lay eggs!”

    Both author and illustrator live in England, Andy Cutbill in London and Russell Ayto in Cornwall. (Carol Hanson Sibley)