Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Cow-tastic Creations

They are the original dairy queens.  More than eight thousand years ago, humans believed it was in their best interest to have them become a part of their world.  To this day, they continue to provide valuable food ingredients, especially for many people's favorite dessert or comfort food, ice cream.

Cows are beloved for their nature.  In a variety of fabricated forms, they are often children's (or collector's) favorite animal finding places on shelves or as stuffed toys to cuddle for comfort or rest.  Perhaps as characters for storytellers, they are able to linger longer in our hearts.  Two recent publications feature cows in all their bovine glory.  Mootilda's Bad Mood (Little Bee Books, September 1, 2020) written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call with illustrations by Claudia Ranucci takes readers on an emotional adventure as one cow youngster wakes up cranky and gets crankier by the incident.

Mootilda woke up in a huff
with hay stuck in her hair.
"What's going on? My pillow's gone.
My doll's way over there!"

Her mother tried to calm her with a treat, but her bad luck and mood escalated.  Mootilda exploded in distress.  Her moomaw thought it would be best if she went outside to join the other cows at play.  Her lack of skill caused even more dismay.

Her friends, like her mother, suggested another remedy for her irritable attitude.  Unfortunately, her dive in the pond was more thwack than swan.  The sheep and pigs offered encouragement along with advice, but nothing worked on this cow's crabby demeanor.  

Believing she is cursed, Mootilda ranted until the chickens took up a chant.  Their day was worse.  Now Mootilda and the chickens were fretting together to the max, until Mootilda decided to use her moomaw's remedy to relax.

They were all enjoying ice cream in cones when another feathered friend made an error in judgment.  Mootilda was shocked, but then she surprised everyone, including herself.  Moody Mootilda discovered what was always there.

One thing is absolutely certain, authors Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call must have laughed themselves silly writing this text.  It's bursting with rhyming and word play.  If a word can be shifted just a bit to include something relating to cows (or another one of the farm crew), it finds a place in their story.

Readers will appreciate the upbeat outlook of the other farm animals with the exception of the chickens.  This supplies the opportunity for contrast with Mootilda's bad mood.  Here is a passage.

"I'm in a bad MOOOD!"

"Hay hay there now, don't have a cow!
We'll get this mess remoooved.
A sooothing swim will cool you down.
Your moood will soon improoove!"

When you look at the matching and open dust jacket and book case, beginning with the front, right, you can't help but laugh.  One glance at the thunderous look on Mootilda's face and you know this cow is having a really bad day.  The swirl of darkness above her head is perfection and a great design choice for the text.  The title text is raised on the jacket.

To the left, on the back, is a similar illustration to one found in the interior of the book.  Mootilda is mooing her discontent along with the clucking cantankerous chickens.  They stand in the sandy barnyard with rolling hills, a fence, and other farm buildings in the distance.  The text reads:

"We're in a bad MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!"

On the opening and closing endpapers are six moods of Mootilda on a white background.  Each is washed in a rainbow color with connecting rainbow dotted lines.  The moods are not happy.  On the title page Mootilda is upright stomping her back hooves in frustration as she waves her arms overhead.

Each image by Claudia Ranucci accentuates the narrative alternating in size and perspective.  We might find ourselves looking at a full-page picture, several smaller visuals on a single page, or dramatic double-page illustrations.  Sometimes we are seeing a panoramic pastoral view.  Other times we are very close to the characters, especially Mootilda.  Readers will find themselves giggling or laughing out loud with every page turn when they see the expressions on the animals' faces.  Careful viewers will understand why the chickens are having a less than stellar day.

One of my many favorite illustrations is the first double-page picture.  Mootilda is declaring her state of emotion to her moomaw in the kitchen in the morning.  The force of her exclamation blows utensils and a canister off the counter.  The cookie jar is overturned, and cookies go flying.  Family portraits on the wall are now crooked.  The refrigerator and cupboards are pink.  Cow drawings hang on the fridge.  Mootilda's stuffed toy cow is on the floor, forgotten for the moment.

It's perfectly normal to be grumpy from time to time.  In Mootilda's Bad Mood written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call with illustrations by Claudia Ranucci, we see how incidents sometimes happen not as desired, but our perspective can make all the difference.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.  

To learn more about Corey Rosen Schwartz, Kirsti Call, and Claudia Ranucci, and their other work, please follow the link attached to their name to access their website or their agency's website.  It appears that Claudia Ranucci has a website in Spanish, linked here.  Corey Rosen Schwartz has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Kirsti Call has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Claudia Ranucci has an account on Instagram.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  There are also interior images to see at Simon & Schuster.  This book and its creators are featured on Picture Book Look.  Author Kirsti Call is highlighted at Book Q &As with Deborah Kalb, at author Vivian Kirkfield's site, and at GROG.

When cherished collaborators return, we cheer.  In a companion title to Holy Cow, I Sure Do Love You! author illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal return with an ode to the affection between a parent and child.  Moo-Moo, I Love You! (Abrams Books for Young Readers, September 22, 2020) is moo-velous in every respect.  

Moo-moo, I love you.

I love you no matter your moo-d.

In all six named moods from good to bad, and sad to silly and two in-between, this child knows they are loved.  This mom loves to share things with her child, food, funny jokes, and dancing to their special music.  Best of all, this mom thinks their refrigerator door, and sides, is a 


Like moms everywhere, this mom loves to see her child enjoying the company of friends as they wait for the school bus.  She notices how her child has the gift of gab, and that of being a good listener.  She continues with a statement regarding the size of her love for her child.

She compares it to being as big as a moose!  The child is astonished.  That's a lot of love.  (The moose needs to be encouraged to move.)

Mom and cow child begin a long journey because there isn't anything this mom won't do to show her love.  They might, if it is a long trip, get assistance from a farmer's hay truck.  At day's end, this mom closes with a universal sign of affection, a promise to recreate a nursery rhyme, and the best phrase in the whole, wide world.

The words in this lovable volume penned by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld place a heavy, hilarious emphasis on the word moo.  It's popcorn at the 




with friends.

With each page turn, we anticipate another round of word play, and we are not disappointed.  The child gets in the last word as they are being carried to bed.

When you open the dust jacket you are immediately drawn to the red on the front, right.  These are the colors you see throughout the book, black and white, and splashes of red with spot color in other hues.  (The illustrations within the book are placed on heavy, matte-finished brown paper.)  The title text on the jacket is textured and varnished.  The mother and child are varnished as is the pink heart on top of their heads.

To the left, on the back, four moods of the child are shown, two on the top and two on the bottom beneath the words:

A book for those you love, no matter their moo-d.

The book case is black and white, like a close-up of the cows' bodies.  The opening and closing endpapers on brown are patterned with a splattering of tiny red hearts.  These surround the mother and child doing a variety of dance moo-ves.

Prior to the double-page picture for the title page is a full page where the book owner can place their name under

This book belongs to-moo:

The title spans both pages.  On the left, the mother's upper body and head are under the o and v in love.  The child, on the right, is placed under the y and o in you.

For every page turn, Tom Lichtenheld has a heavier black frame around two pages, as if drawn in crayon.  The illustrations within these frames were rendered

with Pentel brush pen on watercolor paper, with Photoshop color.  Digital tweakage by Kristen Cella.  

Heavy expressive lines convey every moment found in the narrative.  The facial expressions on the child in its moods are hilarious.  Tiny details add to the comedy such as the youngster holding a tiny teddy bear when their moo-d is worried.

Tom Lichtenheld adds wonderful elements to each image.  The cookie jar on top of the refrigerator is patterned like a cow's black and white body.  Every time there is a double o, they are solid black.  Careful readers will wonder about the full title of the book the mother is holding at bedtime.  

One of my many favorite illustrations is when the mother and child are dancing.  On the left side with the text is a turntable on a record stand with speakers on either side on the floor.  Sound bursts from the speakers.  On the right, the two cows, with eyes closed in contentment, have one foot up in mid-dance move with swaying arms.  The younger one is singing to the music with notes moving up and left to the top center of the left side.

Uplifting and joyful, Moo-Moo, I Love You! written by Tom Lichtenheld and the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal with art by Tom Lichtenheld is a book to read each and every day.  It is to be shared.  It is to be gifted.  No collection would be complete without the happiness of this title.

To learn more about Amy Krouse Rosenthal the link attached to her name is her original website.  For further information about her please visit The Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation website.  The link attached to Tom Lichtenheld's name will acquaint you with his work.  He also maintains accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  You can view interior images at the publisher's website.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED Holy Cow, I Sure Do Love You-I need to get this companion book. Thanks so much for sharing Margie!!