Review Blog

Aug 27 2008

The cow that laid an egg by Andy Cutbill and Russell Ayto

cover image

Harper Collins, 2008.
(Age 3-7) When Marjorie the cow feels left out because she has no special skills, the chickens decide to help. The other cows can do splendid things, handstands and riding bikes, but Marjorie feels very ordinary. But when she wakes the next morning with an egg underneath, she shrieks her news all over the barnyard. The other cows are naturally suspicious and are convinced that the egg does not belong to her, but when it hatches; its first word belies that assumption.

The illustrations are superb. Marjorie is the loveliest cow I have seen in a picture book, with her downcast eyes and ears, and big black spots which are repeated on the end papers. The other animals are all differentiated with drawings that accentuate their differences. The chickens are simply drawn, with a circle and stripes and appendages, but each chicken looks different because the illustrator has changed around the shape and place of the appendages. It sounds simple but it looks just great. And I loved the other cows, with their menacing looks and overbearing attitudes.

A disarming book about feeling special and belonging, The cow that laid an egg will find a home in every library where kids love laugh out loud books. Children will adore the off beat story with the farmyard of animals vying for attention. They will readily identify with Marjorie, longing to be special and looking for the skills to make her so. Children will recognize that need to be different in some way and have a skill that no one else has, but at the same time, be part of the group. Marjorie the cow is a perfect vehicle to talk to students about what makes them special.
Fran Knight

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