Big Fat Cows by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, board book, published by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd in 2014.
A hardy board book great for little hands, Big Fat Cows has been a hit with my toddlers (and their sisters, and their dad, and me…). It is funny and silly and reminds me of Where is the Green Sheep?, one of our favourites. The story is ridiculous in the best possible way, and it rhymes, sounding great read aloud. The illustrations are humourous, with plenty to look at and discover without being too overwhelming for the littlies. My kids have enjoyed seeing what each cow is doing, and they very much like the last page! I like the mixed-up cow and the milk carton shaped space ship myself.
Big Fat Cows is most suitable for toddlers and preschoolers, though it really has a much wider appeal. I highly recommend this book to share with your youngsters!
Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood, paperback verse novel, 128 pages, published by Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd in 2009.
Ruby is growing up on a dairy farm in rural Australia, which has experiencing drought conditions for some time. Ruby and her siblings, Keely and Connor want to help their parents to keep the farm afloat. Ruby is too young to help with the calving, but she watches, and tries to help where she can. If they all work together, perhaps they will see another year on the land.
Star Jumps is a touching story of drought and the struggle that accompanies it, told in beautiful verse from the perspective of a young girl on a dairy farm. The author has obviously experienced the vagaries of the weather for farmers firsthand, and has conveyed the sense of frustration and sadness that drought brings to those dependent on agriculture. The story also highlights the hardiness of those on the land, even the children, despite knowing the hardships, can still find pleasure and fun on the farm between jobs.
I’m not normally a big verse or poetry reader, but I found this book to be well written and moving. It is suitable for primary and lower high school students. Though I think children from country regions may be able to appreciate it more wholly than children without exposure to agriculture, it would be good for all children to read something a bit different. I will be adding Star Jumps to my daughters’ book shelf and encouraging them to read Ruby’s story. I hope Star Jumps will remind them that there is always some good in any situation, you just have to find it, or work to make it happen.