Friday, November 11, 2005

Something to Tell the Grandcows

Spinelli, Eileen. 2004. SOMETHING TO TELL THE GRANDCOWS. Ill. By Bill Slavin. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 080285236 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Emmadine longs for some exciting stories to tell her grandcows. Farmer Brown’s tale of wrestling an alligator at the Virginia State Fair, and Georgetta the pig’s story of hot-air-ballooning across New Mexico, have Emmadine looking for a little adventure of her own. So when Admiral Richard E. Byrd posts his “WANTED: A few good cows” sign for his expedition to the South Pole, Emmadine packs her warmest woolen socks, a scarf, and the uddermuff knitted by Georgetta the pig, and sets sail for the coldest place on earth. Spinelli uses descriptive language to transport the reader to the arctic, “Emmadine’s breath turned to ice crystals. Her teeth chattered like spoons.” The artic scene unfolds in rich detail, “…she saw velvety seals basking on ice cakes, the whales’ foggy spouts echoed from the snow cliffs.” The reader is treated to each new experience with Emmadine, followed by her repeated retrain, “Oh, wouldn’t the grandcows be amazed!” This comforting line reassures the reader that indeed Emmadine will get to go home eventually. Bill Slavin’s bold acrylic illustrations capture the many moods of Emmadine, seasick and longing for home, startled by the smack of a feisty penguin, lulled to sleep by the strains of the cowherd’s ukulele lullaby, and wondrous at the sight of the northern lights glowing blue, green, red and yellow. Inspired by Admiral Byrd’s real exploration to the South Pole, Eileen Spinelli shows readers that the only way to quench one’s thirst for adventure is just to set sail.

Children could create a “future passport” book of places they would like to visit, or adventures they would like to experience, and enhance it with drawings.

Discuss what makes things funny in stories; like farm animals with uddermuffs in the Antarctic, or pigs that hot air balloon, and have them create a story about an animal protagonist doing something totally silly.

Other stories about animals that realize their dreams for adventure:
Arnold, Marsha Diane. PRANCING, DANCING, LILY. ISBN 0803728239
Kirby, David. THE COWS ARE GOING TO PARIS. ISBN 1878093118
Wheeler, Lisa. SAILOR MOO. ISBN 0689842198

By Tammy Korns

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