CM . . . . Volume XV Number 13. . . .February 20, 2009.
There’s a Cow Under My Bed!
Valerie Sherrard. Illustrated by David Jardine.
St. John’s, NL: Tuckamore Books, 2008.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Children’s poetry, Canadian (English).
Kindergarten-grade 2/ Ages 5-7.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.
My name is Oscar Ollie Brown
And there are things that make me frown
That irk, annoy and puzzle me
Because—they’re things I cannot see!
So begins There’s a Cow Under My Bed! by New Brunswick child and young adult author Valerie Sherrard. Sherrard’s affinity for young people comes from the work she has done with adolescents over the years, as well as her experience in raising over 70 foster children. That she has a keen understanding of what adolescents enjoy reading is evident in her “Shelby Belgarden” mystery series, several of which have been on Canadian young readers’ choice award lists.
There’s a Cow Under My Bed! is Sherrard’s first picture book. The text consists of rhyming quadruplets (one or two per spread) with illustrations by David Jardine. There’s a Cow Under My Bed! is Jardine’s first picture book, and there can be no doubt that readers with some sophistication will enjoy this artist’s wickedly sly sense of humour and wacky depiction of Sherrard’s characters.
It’s most perplexing, most unfair
To try to sit still in a chair
And you’d have trouble too, perchance
You had these ants inside your pants!
Poor red-headed cow-licked saggy-socked Oscar Ollie Brown is plagued not only by the invisible cow that licks his hair but also by unseen ants mysteriously invading his pants:
But they exist—and this I know
Because my mother tells me so!
And then there’s the frog in his throat…quite undetectable in the mirror into which Oscar Ollie peers. How irritating it is that these invisible creatures cause the young narrator so much grief….
There’s a Cow Under My Bed! is fun to read. Following in the tradition of renowned children’s authors like William Steig and Bill Peet, Sherrard does not shy away from using sophisticated words in her text. Perhaps all the words the author uses to express being bothered will help young listeners avoid the ubiquitous and tiresome verb “bugged.” Irked, annoyed, puzzled, vexed…these are fine synonyms. Then words like perplexing, bovine, fiendish and perchance gives older readers golden opportunities to talk about language and relish using unusual words.
Enlivened by Jardine's hilarious illustrations, There's a Cow Under My Bed! (a bargain at only $13) is a must-buy for elementary schools.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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