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  • Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor Book Award 2011 

    The Cow Loves Cookies written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Marcellus Hall, and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2010.  

    Cow Loves CookiesThe story opens with an engaging cover of the farmer offering the cow a cookie, continues on the endpapers with a scene of the farm, and commences with the farmer carrying a huge bale of hay to the horse. The rhyming, repetitive text begins: “Whenever Farmer feeds the horse, he feeds the horsey hay, of course. The horse loves to nibble hay. He eats it every single day. But the cow loves cookies.” The story continues with Farmer feeding the chickens, the geese, the pigs, the dog, and finally the cow. It is then that readers learn why the cow loves cookies. Farmer and cow have made a deal; every day Farmer packs a picnic lunch of cookies, and the cow gives milk for dunking. Both are happy as “They both LOVE milk and cookies!”

    Cartoon style watercolor and ink illustrations with bold black outlines show uncluttered scenes of the farm and the animals. Children especially enjoyed the scene of the oinking, snorting pigs, eating their gooey slop. Readers reported that the illustrations were easily viewed by groups of children.

    This story was read to children from ages three through six. Children enjoyed making the animal sounds and repeating “the cow loves cookies.” Students thought the book was funny and especially enjoyed the ending when “the duck loves quakers.” Adults enjoyed reading this story aloud and appreciated the rhyming flow of the text. Children showed intent attention, looked at the book after read aloud sessions, and wanted it read again. Preschool teachers agreed that “All of the students just loved this book.”

    Karma Wilson and her family live on a small ranch in Montana. Marcellus Hall, who resides in New York, is both an illustrator and musician. CAROL HANSON SIBLEY

    Interrupting Chicken written by David Ezra Stein and published by Candlewick Press, 2010.
    Interrupting ChickenIt is bedtime for little chicken. The little chicken’s Papa agrees to read a bedtime story, as long as Chicken doesn’t interrupt. She promises again and again that she won’t disturb him, but again and again she gets in the way! By jumping on to the actual pages of the fairy tale “storybook,” Chicken warns the surprised characters of the hidden dangers, thereby saving everyone a whole lot of trouble. Her exasperated father gives Chicken three chances to stay quiet, but when she doesn’t, and there are no more stories to read, Chicken must come up with her own bedtime story. Stein’s illustrations, done in watercolor, water-soluble crayon, china marker, pen, opaque white ink, and tea, are saturated with vibrant colors that reflect the playful and excitable spirit that the little chicken embodies.

    This was an extremely successful book with students ages four to ten. Children were laughing throughout the story; one 3rd grade girl even commented that “it was probably the funniest book I ever heard.” Children enjoyed the inclusion of folk tales within the story and especially loved it when Chicken would interrupt the stories. All children paid very close attention to the story. The mother of a four-year-old, who normally doesn’t like to sit and read books, was very impressed by her young daughter’s attention to this story. Readers enjoyed the book as well, stating that it was one of their favorites and that they enjoyed “getting into” the characters. One reader got so into the role, she lost her voice after reading the book!

    David Ezra Stein lives in Kew Gardens, New York, with his wife, Miriam.

    A story-hour kit for this book is available on the publisher’s website. BRITTANY LAZUR

    That Cat Can't Stay written by Thad Krasnesky, illustrated by David Parkins, and published by Flashlight Press, 2010.
    That Cat Can't StayIn a comic rhyming text, the narrator tells the tale of how five cats and eventually one dog are added to a family. Mom brings home stray cat after stray cat and Dad firmly replies: “That creature cannot stay./There’s no use begging./Don’t say please./I don’t like cats. They scratch my knees./And I don’t want to have to shout,/so kindly put/that cat-thing out.” While Mom pretends to comply, she knows just how to manipulate soft-hearted Dad: “I’ll put him back outside,/I’m sure he’ll find some place to hide,/away from all the rain and hail/which just might drench him, nose to tail.” The young son and daughter witness each encounter and make the cats their own, but it is Dad that the cats prefer. Each scenario is funnier than the last with Dad ranting and raving but always relenting. Finally, Dad gets just what he wants—a sad and lonely pup he found at the pound. The book concludes with a funny family portrait, including five cats, and one dog.

    The cartoon style, pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are at the heart of this comedy. The exaggerated facial expressions, especially those of Dad, are laugh-out-loud funny. One reader commented how the humorous vignettes of the Dad, proclaiming why he doesn’t want another cat, kept the children entertained.

    Students from age four through eight greatly enjoyed this book. One second grade teacher called the book “brilliant” and said her students “loved it.” Children moved closer as the book was read and enjoyed repeating the refrain.

    Thad Krasnesky, an Army major, lives at West Point, New York with his wife and two daughters. David Parkins, who lives with his wife and daughter in Lansdowne, Ontario, Canada, is also known for his political cartoons and editorial illustrations.

    An activity kit for this book is available on the publisher's website. CAROL HANSON SIBLEY