So many books. So little time.
Silly stories are fun to read. Silly rhymes are easy to remember. Put them together and you have a book that is a fun read-aloud. Then add to the mix silly pictures, and you have a sure-fire winner. When Cows Come Home is such a book.
Even the title is silly, and a little mysterious. "When cows come home" is a common saying, but what will happen in this story when the cows come home? Read the book to find out. Left to themselves the cows would have wandered till the cows come home (!), but we see Farmer ringing the triangle, calling them home. What a big herd of cows. Up the hill and down the hill and all across the field their line stretches. But there is no rioting. They "gently sway, and chew their cuds/ in a cowlike way."
But watch what happens when Farmer looks the other way:
"You never saw
Such cow horseplay,
When Farmer looks
The other way!"
This is where the story takes off. All these very uncowlike activities. They play tag, play the fiddle, sing and dance. The illustrations bring out beautifully the silliness of the words. Whoever saw cows on bikes, or pulling a sleigh, or swimming? These cows are having a ball. Till they see Farmer looking in their direction.
"Let's swish our tails
And gently sway"
they whisper, and the story comes full circle. The cows have outwitted Farmer, and had their fun in the sun. Till a perceptive reader points out Farmer's wink. Did they outwit him, or did he know all along? Guess we'll have to wait for the next book to find out.