“Peaceful watercolors mimic a donkey's idealistic dream of being a cow.”
Cowie the donkey disdainfully compares the dreadful duties of donkeys, such as having people ride them and carrying heavy loads, to the content and admirable lives of cows with “their soft ears and their kind eyes.” In a moment of realization, Cowie decides he must stand with the cows to become one. He nibbles at grass and swishes his tail, but Cowie only makes “a donkey of [himself]” as he lets out an “oom” instead of a “moo.” Cowie’s devoted friends search for a solution to turn his “oom” around, trying remedies like freshening Cowie’s foul breath by chewing mint leaves. The friends finally hit on a clever strategy to take “turns taking turns” as they spin Cowie this way and that until his “oom” is finally turned around to come out just right as a “moo.” The lovely watercolor illustrations match Cowie’s peaceful, calm, and idealistic view of cow life and are a clear defining quality in this book as the story itself feels split between two concepts. The beginning of the storyline overflows with clever and endearing lines about Cowie’s dream, but the development unexpectedly changes with the interesting introduction of word direction, then ends on a rushed note of celebration—as the ability to simply say “moo” from left to right spares Cowie from the dreary burdens of being a donkey.
Cowie is a donkey who feels like a cow on the inside. Will his friends help him make his dream come true? Find out in this sweetly told story about discovering your true self.
Cowie was born a donkey but he knows he’s meant to be a cow. He wants to be a cow. Cows can graze in the meadow all day long and no one asks them to carry heavy packages. So, he stands with the cows in the barn but nothing happens. Will his dream ever come true, he wonders. Can Mousie and Duckie help Cowie feel happy in his own skin?
Cowie admires everything about the cows, like their peaceful lives and their “soft ears.” What animal do you most admire, and why?
Cowie tries acting like the cows to be a cow—he eats their food, stands with them, and says “moo.” Who is someone you admire and want to be like, and what traits and behaviors could you try to learn to become more like them?
Elizabeth Rose Stanton began her picture book writing and illustrating adventure a few years ago, after a brief career as an architect, and long career as a parent and fine artist. Her debut book, Henny, was awarded an American Library Association Booklist star and was named as one of the best books of 2014 for children by The New York Public Library. School Library Journal called her second book, Peddles, “quietly wonderful,” and the illustrations, “a thing of beauty.” Elizabeth grew up in New York and now lives in Seattle with her husband and a trio of Scottish Fold cats.
“Cowie’s yearning and determination have a deeply touching specificity, and the pencil and watercolor drawings beguile from beginning to end.”
The theme, if readers need one, may be something along the lines of the value of friendship, but when the characters are as cute as Mousie and Duckie (and the unnamed chick who toodles about throughout the pages), readers will be forgiven for just enjoying the silly antics of everyone.