Underneath a Cow by Carol Ann Martin, illustrated by Ben Wood (Omnibus Books)
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
The animals on the farm are out and about far from their homes when a storm approaches. As big fat raindrops begin to fall, Lally the rabbit is the first to be invited by Madge the cow to shelter underneath her broad body. There is plenty of room at first, but as extra animals join, it gets more and more squishy. Will visitors keep arriving, or will the rain stop before it gets too crowded? And is Spike the hedgehog one animal too many?
Underneath a Cow is a delight to read. The names are wonderful and the banter between the animals is gorgeous. When mother hen’s chicks get excited they bounce about like crazy little dodgem cars. This annoys the dog.
‘Madam!’ Robinson snapped. ‘Do something about your children, please!’
‘They’re only playing,’ said Cackalina. ‘Don’t you ever play?’
‘Not in somebody’s ear. No,’ Robinson replied.
There is a lovely rhythm to the story, with an animal added to the crowd under the cow each page until the storm hits it heights. Here, the calm and brave Madge encourages them all to sing, to keep their fear away.
The personalities in the story are enhanced by the fabulous illustrations, the unflappable cow, the fearful rabbit and the silly chicks – including one little black one who looks like he’d be a handful. Inside the cover – both front and back – is an aerial picture of the farm showing what they were all doing before, and then after, the storm.
This is a really enjoyable and engaging picture book. Both the words and pictures are highly entertaining and it is a story which could be read many times over with pleasure.