MOO! All About Cows

 

Check out these lists for typing cows, flying cows, purple cows, and pirate cows; find out what cows have to do with whales; and learn all about sacred cows, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, and the cow that jumped over the moon. (There was even a lunar space probe named Cow.)

COOL FICTIONAL COWS

 imgres By Woody Jackson, A Cow’s Alfalfa-Bet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2003) is a Holstein-cow-themed alphabet book illustrated with gorgeous watercolors. (A is for Alfalfa, B for Barn, C for Corn.) For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-1 Phyllis Gershator’s Moo, Moo Brown Cow! Have You Any Milk? (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011) is a clever extension of the familiar nursery rhyme “Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?” – explaining that wool makes a blanket for a little boy’s bed. The rhyme moves on to “Honk, honk, gray goose, have you any down?” (for the pillow), then to bees, hen, and cow, who furnish a bedtime snack. The book ends with animals and boy asleep. A lovely bedtime pick for ages 2-5.
 imgres-2 In Andy Cutbill’s The Cow That Laid an Egg (HarperCollins, 2008), Marjorie is depressed because she’s just an ordinary cow, and can’t ride a bicycle or do handstands like the other cows. Then – after some clever chickens get to work with a paintbrush – Marjorie wakes to discover that she’s (apparently) laid a black-and-white Holstein-cow-spotted egg. The other cows refuse to believe in Marjorie’s egg and accuse the chickens, who refuse to tell. (“Prove it!”) Eventually Marjorie’s egg hatches a chick – whose first word out of the shell is “Moo!” With hilarious illustrations by Russell Ayto. Pair this one with Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg. For ages 2-6.
 images Sequels starting Marjorie and her adopted daughter Daisy include The Cow That Was the Best Moo-ther, The Best Cow in Show, and First Week at Cow School.
 imgres-3 In Karma Wilson’s rhyming The Cow Loves Cookies (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010), readers learn what farm animals eat – the horse loves hay, the geese munch corn – but the cow loves cookies! At the end, cow and farmer share a snack of cookies and milk. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-4 In Doreen Cronin’s wonderful Click, Clack, Moo (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000), Farmer Brown’s cows have acquired a typewriter and promptly begin to make their problems known: “Dear Farmer Brown, The barn is very cold at night. We’d like some electric blankets. Sincerely, The Cows.” Farmer Brown refuses and the cows go on a milk strike. All is finally resolved with the helpful intervention of Duck, who ends up with the typewriter – and promptly fires off a note announcing that the duck pond is boring and the ducks would like a diving board. Hilarious for ages 3 and up. There are several sequels featuring the Click, Clack, Moo characters.
 imgres-5 Click, Clack, Moo is a teaching unit to accompany the book, with six versions of the story, online games, and printable student resources, including activity books, story pages, and worksheets.
Put on a play! Readers’ Theater: Click, Clack, Moo is a script to accompany the book., adaptable for various numbers of actors. As it stands, it calls for three narrators, one Farmer Brown, choruses of Cows and Ducks, and some help from the audience.
 imgres-6 Cows and pirates! Moo – the star of Lisa Wheeler’s Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002) – has wanted to go to sea ever since she was a calf wearing a sailor hat. Eventually she gets a job on a fishing boat crewed by cats and led by Captain Silver Claw, who has a hook in place of one paw. She’s swept overboard in a storm, rescued by friendly manatees, and eventually ends up on the pirate ship of Red Angus and his gang of cattle buccaneers. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-7 In Phyllis Root’s Kiss the Cow (Candlewick, 2003), Luella the cow refuses to give any milk for Mama May’s hungry family of children (all in overalls) until Annalisa gives her a kiss on the nose. But Annalisa (“Never, never, never!”) is not about to kiss a cow. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-8 John Himmelman’s picture book Cows to the Rescue (Henry Holt and Company, 2011) is one of a series, beginning with Chickens to the Rescue (2006) and Pigs to the Rescue (2010). They’re all hilarious: problems arise and frantic hordes of animals arrive to (more or less) save the day. Here, it’s the day of the county fair and the Greenstalks’ car won’t start. Enter the cows! For ages 4-8. (And up.)
 imgres-9 In Lisa Wheeler’s rhyming Sixteen Cows (Harcourt, 2006), Cowboy Gene of the Biddle Ranch and Cowgirl Sue of the neighboring Waddle Ranch each have eight beloved cows, summoned each night by special come-home songs (to which the cows reply in chorus: “Moo!”). Then a wind blows down the fence between the two pastures and the sixteen cows become inextricably mixed up. The solution: a romance, a wedding, and a cow merger. For ages 4-8.
What If We Changed the Book? is a lesson plan with problem-posing extensions to accompany Sixteen Cows. Targeted at grades 3-5.
 imgres-10 Sandra Boynton’s Amazing Cows (Workman Publishing, 2010) is a riotous 96-page collection of cow stories, poems, parodies, jokes, and games – among them the tale of the shy research assistant whose alter ego is the bovine superhero, AMAZING COW. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-11 Carmen Agra Deedy’s 14 Cows for America (Peachtree Publishers, 2009) is the picture-book version of a true story in which, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Kemeli Naiyomah travels from New York City to his home village in Kenya. There, after he tells the story of 9/11, his fellow Masai tribesman decide to give the people of America a gift of 14 sacred healing cows. A lovely and heartwarming story for ages 7-11.
 imgres-12 By Mark Leiknes, Cow & Boy (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008) – which began life as a webcomic – is right on for fans of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Eight-year-old Billy and friend Cow live on the family farm, where – together – they explore life’s big questions. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-13 Fans of James Thurber’s classic daydreamer Walter Mitty must see Glen Wexler’s (digitally twisted) photo-illustrated The Secret Life of Cows (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2007). “When you see cows standing in a pasture blandly chewing some dreary bit of grass and staring into the middle distance, you’d never guess what lies beneath that placid exterior” – namely, a rich fantasy life featuring cyborg cows, superhero cows, secret agent cows, and rocket-propelled cows. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-14 Gary Larson’s Cows of Our Planet (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1992) isn’t, I have to admit, just about cows; rather it’s a collection of Larson’s wickedly funny Far Side cartoons. The centerfold, “Cows of Our Planet,” is Larson’s twisted take on breeds of cows. For everybody old enough to appreciate it.

REAL LIVE COWS

 imgres-15 Gail Gibbons’s brightly illustrated The Milk Makers (Aladdin, 1987) is a straightforward step-by-step account of the milk-making process, from cow to glass. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-16 Jules Older’s  humorous 32-page Cow (Charlesbridge Publishing, 1998) looks like an ad for Ben & Jerry’s – the art is by Ben & Jerry’s veteran Lyn Severance – but it’s filled with real facts about real cows, including breeds of cows, the names of the cow’s four stomachs, how calves are born, a bovine quiz, and (a yummy tangent) how to make an ice cream sundae. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-17 In Jennifer Holland’s photo-illustrated Unlikely Friendships for Kids series, the title story in The Leopard & the Cow (Workman Publishing, 2012) is the tale of a young leopard cub, adopted by an Indian cow. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-18 Pat Wakefield’s A Moose for Jessica (Puffin, 1992) is the photo-illustrated story of a young bull moose – later known as Josh – who wandered into a cow pasture and became attached to a cow named Jessica. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-19 Cris Peterson’s photo-illustrated Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More (Boyds Mills Press, 2007) is set on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, where Clarabelle lives with 1200 other cows. The book describes all the basics of cow physiology, milk-making, and dairy farming – readers learn that Clarabelle produces 15 gallons of milk a day, which goes to make an array of other products, such as cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt. And not only that: Clarabelle and pals also generate electricity, fertilizer, and compost. For ages 8-11.
Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More is a lesson plan to accompany the book, with activity suggestions and printable resources.
 imgres-20 Learn to identify all 52 American breeds of cows! John Pukite’s A Field Guide to Cows (Penguin Books, 1998) has illustrations, statistics, cool cow trivia, and general information on each featured breed of cow. (We have a copy in the car.) Fun for all ages.
 images-1 Jack Byard’s Know Your Cows (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2012) is an illustrated and alphabetical guide to cow breeds, from Ayrshire to White Park. All ages.
 images-2 Marvin Harris’s Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches (Vintage, 1989) is a fascinating study in anthropology, explaining the economic and social underpinnings of traditional cultural beliefs. Find out, for example, why Hindus have sacred cows. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-21 From PBS’s Nature series. Holy Cow discusses the domestication of cows and ways in which cows and people interact. Topics covered in this 60-minute program include everything from the African Masai cattle culture and India’s sacred cows to modern dairy farming, “green” beef, and mad cow disease. See the website for a list of related websites and books.
The Perfect Cow? is a lesson plan on natural selection and domestication to accompany PBS’s Holy Cow. Targeted at grades 9-12.
 images-3 History of Cattle is a short, illustrated, hyperlinked article, targeted at kids, with an appended book list.

MILK AND CHEESE AND MORE

 imgres-23 Aliki’s charmingly illustrated Milk: From Cow to Carton (HarperCollins, 1992) covers the story of milk from grazing cows to dairy to the many different foods made from milk. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-24 Cris Peterson’s Extra Cheese, Please! (Boyds Mills Press, 1994) traces “Mozzarella’s Journey From Cow to Pizza,” with color photos and lots of fascinating facts. (A single cow produces 40,000 glasses of milk a year, enough to make cheese for 1800 pizzas.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-25 Try making your own mozzarella! Ricki’s Cheesemaking Kit includes materials (everything but milk), instructions, and recipes for making multiple batches of mozzarella and ricotta cheeses. Fun for all ages.
 imgres-26 Cheese.com is a database of all things cheese, covering nearly 600 cheeses by name, country, and type of milk, plus cheese facts and cheese recipes. (Find out why American cheese is not really cheese.)
 images-4 Milk and Dairy Products has reader-friendly information on milk consumption, various kinds of dairy products, the pasteurization process, milk nutrients, and milk chemistry.

FAMOUS COWS

 imgres-27 From Mental Floss, Seven Historical Cow Tales is a cool list, including the saga of Nellie Jay, the first cow ever to fly in an airplane, and the story of Grady, an Oklahoma cow who got stuck in a silo and became a media sensation in 1949.
imgres-28 Una Belle Townsend’s Grady’s in the Silo (Pelican Publishing, 2003) is a picture-book account of Grady’s silo adventure. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-29 Borden’s Elsie the Cow was at one time one of the most recognizable advertising symbols in the world.
 imgres-31 The (life-sized) Butter Cow has been a star of the Iowa State Fair since 1911.
 imgres-32 Check out the stories of these 10 Famous Cows, among them Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (who may or may not have started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871); President Taft’s cow, Pauline Wayne, who supplied milk for the White House; and the Wall Street Bull.
 images-5 Did the Cow Do It? explores the evidence for the cause of the Great Chicago Fire.
 imgres-34 From Education World, The Great Chicago Fire: Did Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Really Cause It? is a lesson plan on the fire and the cow for grades 6 and up. Included are discussion questions and a helpful resource list.
 imgres-33 Jim Murphy’s Newbery Honor Book, The Great Fire (Scholastic, 2006), is the story of the 1871 Chicago fire, including eyewitness accounts, and illustrated with photographs and period prints. (He says it wasn’t the fault of the cow.) For ages 9 and up.

THE SCIENCE OF COWS

 imgres-35 Cows or Cattle? All cows are cattle, but not all cattle are cows. This elementary-level lesson plan (with printable worksheet) explains it all.
 imgres-36 Do Cows Pollute as Much as Cars? Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases – a lot of it in the form of methane, belched, burped, or farted by cows.
 images-6 Cows and Methane Gas is a nicely designed page on cows and the environment for upper-elementary students. Included is a list of Teacher Resources including an animation of cow digestion, quizzes and coloring pages, and activities.
 imgres-37 From the San Francisco Exploratorium, Cow’s Eye Dissection has information about eyes, an online demonstration, and illustrated step-by-step instructions for performing a cow’s eye dissection.
 imgres-38 A cow’s eye dissection kit (preserved cow’s eye, instruction guide, dissecting tools, and disposable dissecting tray) is available from Home Science Tools ($6.95). The website also has a virtual dissection and printable eye diagrams to label.
 images-7 Is Cow-Tipping Possible? Probably not. Find out why.
 imgres-39 Whales are believed to have evolved from a group of land animals whose closest living relative is the cow. Turn a Cow into a Whale is a lesson plan on this topic with printable worksheets and puzzles. Targeted at third-graders.
 imgres-40 I Didn’t Know That: Milking a Cow is a short video on the science of milk-making and milking (both traditional, by hand into a bucket, and state-of-the art, fully automated).
 imgres-41 Though the cow may just be the most important domesticated animal in human history, recent research indicates that cows may have been almost impossible to domesticate. Find out why.
 images-8 From the WhyFiles, learn all about mad cow disease.
 imgres-42 What do cows have to do with vaccination? Learn about Edward Jenner, cowpox, and smallpox here.

THE COW JUMPED OVER THE MOON

 imgres-43 Linda Alchin’s The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes (Neilson, 2013) discusses the historical backgrounds of many classical nursery rhymes, among them “Hey Diddle Diddle,” featuring cat, fiddle, and moon-jumping cow.
 imgres-44 BellaOnline’s Hey Diddle Diddle is a short history of the poem. It’s really about a love triangle and the Cow just might have been Queen Elizabeth I.
 imgres-45 P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) includes the story of “The Dancing Cow” who has a star stuck on one horn from her famous jump over the moon.
 imgres-46 A space probe named Cow? (There was one. Well, almost.) Read all about the moon-circling space probe designed in 1957 by Krafft Ehricke and George Gamow in The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.

ART AND COWS

 imgres-47 In David Milgrim’s rhyming Cows Can’t Fly (Viking Juvenile, 1998), an imaginative little boy draws a picture of orange cows in a blue sky – and suddenly cows take to the air.  The problem: none of the flying-cow-resistant adults will look up. (“Ms. Crumb said cows/were far too fat/that facts were facts/and that was that.”) For ages 3-8.
 imgres-48 Want a flying cow of your own? From Playmaker Toys, this Flying Cow, launched via elastic slingshot, makes a mooing sound as it shoots through the air. $4.75.
 imgres-49 Nina Laden’s witty When Pigasso Met Mootisse (Chronicle Books, 1998) pictures artist Pablo Picasso as a beret-wearing pig and Henri Matisse as a bright-red bull. The artistic pair move into neighboring country houses, which they transform into works of art – but gradually their friendship falls apart as they criticize each other’s styles. (“You paint like a two-year-old!” “You paint like a wild beast!”) Eventually, however, they solve their differences by painting a pair of masterpieces on either side of their dividing fence. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-50 Doris Kutschbach’s The Blue Rider: The Yellow Cow Sees the World in Blue (Prestel, 1997), one of the Adventures in Art series, is the beautifully designed story of a group of innovative painters collectively known as the Blue Riders – among them Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee – who turned the art world upside-down with their creative uses of form and color. Illustrated with brilliantly colored art reproductions and photos of the artists at work. Check out the yellow cow. For ages 8-12.
imgres-61 Check out Andy Warhol’s Cows and try your hand at the Andy Warhol Cow Wallpaper Game.
 imgres-51 From Artists Helping Children, Cow Crafts for Kids has a long list of cow projects with instructions. Make stand-up paper cows, cow puppets, cow masks, an origami cow, and many more.
 imgres-52 From DLTK, Paper Plate Cow Craft has instructions and a template for making a cool cow mask on a stick.
 imgres-53 At Handprint and Footprint Art, find out how to make a handprint cow. (Also a handprint duck.)
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From Busy Bee, Cow Crafts for Kids has a nice assortment of projects, among them a clothespin calf, a talking cow card, and a cut-and-paste picture of a lush green field filled with thumbprint cows.
 imgres-54 We all know about sock monkeys – so why not a sock cow? Learn to make an adorable one at Sock Cow Tutorial.
 imgres-55 CowParade is a public art exhibit (possibly the world’s largest) in which fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by artists and displayed in public places.
Street Cows is a lesson plan in which kids read about and compare real and imaginary cows, learn about Cow Parade displays, and design art cows of their own.
 cowparade From Kinderart, Cow Parade is an art lesson plan for ages 11 and up in which kids decorate cardboard cow cut-outs in the styles of famous artists.
 imgres-56 Deep Space Sparkle’s Drawing Animals: Art Lesson Plans includes a great project in which kids make pictures of “Dancing Cows.”

COW POEMS

 imgres-57 The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012), compiled by J. Patrick Lewis, is a collection of 200 animal-themed poems paired with stunning full-page color photographs. Among the poems: “The Cow” by Robert Louis Stevenson. A gorgeous book for ages 4 and up.
 imgres-58 Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Cow” can also be found in A Child’s Garden of Verses (Simon & Schuster, 1999) or online here.
 imgres-59 Gelett Burgess is best known for the immortal four-line poem “I Never Saw a Purple Cow.” This website has a great biography of Burgess (including an account of the fatal Cogswell Fountain Incident), the text of “Purple Cow,” and a list of Burgess’s publications.
For more on Burgess’s Purple Cow, a lot of purple cow parodies, and a poetry challenge, see How Now, Purple Cow?
 imgres-60 Susan Hawthorne’s Cow (Spinifex Press, 2011) is a fascinating poetry collection in which Queenie, leader of the herd, guides readers through mythology, philosophy, history, and language. For older teenagers and adults.
For many more poetry resources, see POETRY I and POETRY II.

COWS AND MATH

 images-9 In Woody Jackson’s Counting Cows (Harcourt, 1995), illustrated with gorgeous black-and-white cows and electric-colored watercolor landscapes, readers count backwards from ten cows to zero – and then wind up with a barn dance. For ages 3-6.
 images-10 From Cool Math Games, Find the Cow and Mooo! are collections of clever and varied interactive puzzles, all involving problem-solving and cows.
 imgres-63 From Illuminations, Grouping and Grazing is an exercise in adding, subtracting, tallying, and counting by 5s and 10s as an alien spaceship moves cows into corrals.
 imgres-64 For math students who like a challenge, Newton’s Cows is a deceptively simple-sounding problem (originally attributed to Sir Isaac Newton) about the amount grass eaten by cows. There’s an accompanying step-by-step explanation of the solution.
 imgres-65 Ian Stewart’s Cows in a Maze and Other Mathematical Explorations (Oxford University Press, 2010) is a chatty collection of creative mathematical puzzles and recreations. Readers learn about time travel, sphericons, cat’s cradle, probability in the courtroom, and cows, lost in a maze. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-66 In this Cats, Cows, and Pigs puzzle, a farmer has nine animal pens arranged in three rows of three. Each pen must contain a cat, a pig, or a cow – but no row or column can contain two of the same animal. It’s a sort of Sudoku puzzle for kids, with cows.
 imgres-67 From Ivars Peterson’s Math Trek, Cattle of the Sun is a discussion of Archimedes’s famous and fiendish.cattle problem, originally written in the form of a poem.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE BULLS?

 imgres-68 By Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand (Viking Juvenile, 2011) is the classic tale of the peaceful bull who wanted only to sit under a cork tree, smelling the flowers. Then he’s stung by a bee just as recruiters arrive from Madrid to choose the biggest, fiercest bull for the bullfights. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-69 Ferdinand’s story is also available in Latin. Check out Ferdinandus Taurus (David R. Godine, 2000).
 images-11 Aaron Zenz’s picture book Hug a Bull: An Ode to Animal Dads (Walker Children’s Books, 2013) introduces kids to the names of 27 different animal dads. (For 27 animal moms, see the companion book I Love Ewe.) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-70 In Sandra Neil Wallace’s Little Joe (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010), nine-year-old Eli is given a calf of his own to raise. (But don’t bother naming him, Eli’s father warns, because he’s just going to be eaten.) Even so, Eli names him Little Joe – and, after Joe wins the blue ribbon as best bull at the county cattle show, Eli’s grandfather buys him to save him from the butcher. It’s a great story of old-fashioned farm life, the difficulties of family relationships, and the struggles that come with growing up. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-71 In Maia Wojciechowska’s Newbery-winning Shadow of a Bull (Aladdin, 2007), eleven-year-old Manolo’s father, a world-famous bullfighter, died when he was three. Everyone has always expected Manolo to follow in his father’s footsteps – but Manolo wants to pursue his own path. A wonderful story of courage and friendship. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-72 In Suzanne Morgan Williams’s Bull Rider (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010), 14-year-old Cam O’Mara isn’t much interested in the family sport of bull-riding – he’s a skateboarder – until his older brother Ben comes home from Iraq with a brain injury. If Cam can only ride the champion bull Ugly for just eight seconds, the prize money will make all the difference in the world to Ben. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-73 Mary Renault’s The King Must Die (Vintage, 1988) is an historical retelling of the story of Theseus. Here the young Theseus discovers the identity of his father and joins the fourteen young men and women sent as tribute to King Minos of Crete, where all are trained to become bull-dancers – vaulting over the horns of bulls. The story continues in The Bull from the Sea (Vintage, 2001). Terrific reads for older teenagers and adults, these are compellingly told using a wealth of research into the history, archaeology, and culture of the time.

 

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