CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 6 . . . . October 7, 2011
Originally published in 1979 and 1980 as part of the "Kids of Canada" series, Six Darn Cows and Anna's Pet have both been long out of print. Now these two Canadian classics have been repackaged for a new generation of beginning readers. In Six Darn Cows, Jen and Tod have chores to do on their family farm, but on a summer evening they would rather go for a swim than round up the cows. Grumbling, the siblings offhandedly wish the cows would "just get lost". When the cows escape through an open gate, Jen and Tod regret their words and start a rescue search. As darkness falls, the cows are spotted in the deep woods, and the kids and their dog, Zip, successfully herd the cows back home.
In Anna's Pet, a young girl learns about respecting creatures and their natural habitats. When Anna visits her grandparents' farm, she is on the hunt for a pet. She brings home a toad and decides to keep it in the bathtub. Anna's grandmother explains why this isn't a good idea and encourages her to return the toad to the pond "where it will be happy." Anna then finds a worm and takes it somewhere "cool and dark and under something." Her grandfather patiently explains why under the bed isn't a good place for a worm. Anna also tries to house a garter snake inside the oven before finally discovering the perfect pet – a tadpole. Her grandparents tell her she can take the tadpole back to the city and watch it grow into a frog before returning it to the pond.
Compared to the original editions, the illustrations and text remain the same. Updates have been made in layout and design. In the new editions, an illustration appears on the opposite side of every page of text. In some cases, the original illustrations have been cropped or enlarged. The colours appear more vivid and vibrant, and the reproductions are crisp and clear. The first sentence of every chapter is highlighted with purple text. The page breaks have been changed as well. All of these minor changes enhance the readability of the books.
Beginning readers fly off library shelves. There is a demand for longer, more challenging reads, and these two titles are perfect for children almost ready for chapter books. They also have nostalgic appeal for many parents as well.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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