Until a few years ago I had never heard of Sandra Boynton. Then someone gifted us with a few of her board books. I still wasn’t really paying attention, because as much as I love books board books normally fail to excite me. Then I read them (Pajama Time, Barnyard Dance) and I read them and read them, over and over to an enthralled 2 year old. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed them too! I loved the cadence and the rhythm to Boynton’s writing. Her work has become a staple around our house. So of course I couldn’t turn down the chance to review her newest book, Amazing Cows.
Amazing Cows is not a board book. It is a magazine sized soft-covered digest with a ridiculous amount of stuff crammed into it. All Boynton and all pretty darn funny. The cover promises “udder absurdity” and it does not lie.
This quote from Sandra Boynton really amused me. When asked “What was the hardest part of writing this book?” this was her answer:
Now and then, I would write something and suddenly realize it had maybe some basis in reality. So then I had to carefully rework it until I was pretty certain that it was total nonsense. It takes vigilance and discipline.
Her vigilance in eliminating all non-nonsense is quite evident. From front to back this book it jammed full of a ridiculous amount of absurdity. There’s a little bit of everything, all of it nonsensical in the most wonderful Boynton way. Including, “How to speak cow”, eleven cow jokes, two cow limericks, a poem, a riddle, two cow stories, a cow myth, an amazing cow comic book and much more.
Here is a quote taken from the “Cow Story – Red Rover”, which illustrates why I’m in love with this book.
“Once upon a time, there were 137 cows who lived very happily on a lovely farm in North Dakota or something. Their names were Ezekiel, Ted, Rose, Carumba, Andrew, Mitch, Cucumber, Sly, Simone, Clark, Milo, Gorgonzola, Bipsy, Debit, Louise, Jean-Pierre, Walter, Helicopter, Zorro, Big George, Vladimir, Dave, G. K. Chesterton, Mimi, Lightning, Victor, Larry, Cruise Control, Nell, Azalea, Cookie, Angel, Xavier, Sneaker, Orwell, Trouble, Stanley, Fred, Sofa, Lillian, Ezra, Scooter, Myron, Zippy, Chaos, Daffodil, Buzz, Brewster, Gabby, Dink, Mosquito, Emmy, Trixie, Jupiter, Jeremiah, Tyler and Steve. The remaining eighty cows were all named Tino…”
See? How can you read that and not smile? It’s just delightfully absurd. Apart from the above quote, my favourite part of the book was the cow myth, in which Boynton managed to slip in references to “Zoose”, Calliope and Homer, as well as a laurel wreath munching aulos playing cow heroine.
I was surprised by how much G-Girl enjoyed this book. I thought I would set this aside for her and read it to her once she was older. However, she had seen it arrive in the mail. She recognized the art from the Boynton board books littered around our house, and was intrigued. She asked me to read it to her, and I was shocked when she sat raptly still through all 89 pages in one sitting. She then told me that we would have to read it again sometime soon. I asked her what her favourite part was and she said she liked the songs the best. Apparently my rousing version of “It Had to Be Moo” was quite memorable.
Overall I would definitely recommend Amazing Cows. For Boynton fans, I’d say it’s absolutely not to be missed. And well, if you’re not a Boynton fan you should be! For those like myself who often overlook board books, this absurd ode to cows would be a good introduction to her particular brand of silliness and barnyard mayhem.
Where to buy it:
Amazing Cows is put out by Workman Publishing, and is available at pretty much any large bookstore. Chapters and Amazon both have copies available. Or you can order direct from the Workman Publishing website.
Workman Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or by the free product provided.