Over A Cup of Coffee: Until the cows come home

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

— There's something about cows that brings out the giggles in young and old alike. Perhaps that's why cows are often chosen as characters in children's books. An example is this week's book.

"Sixteen Cows" was written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus.

It's just after winter thaw on the Biddle Ranch, and Cowboy Gene is in his bunkhouse home with his feet propped up in front of a wood stove. Gene has red hair and green eyes, and he's long and lean. In fact, he's so lean that he can lie crosswise on his bunk and still stretch his legs across a stool. And as he rests his head on a pillow, Gene gazes up at some photographs hanging on the wall.

The photos aren't of family, pretty girls or nature scenes. They're of black and white cows. The cows wear bells around their necks, held in place by what appears to be red ribbons.

Gene loves his cows.

The cows all have names, like "Mudskipper," "Sassafras" and "Sissy Bell," and the names of all eight cows are in a come-home song. Gene rides out into the pasture in his red truck and sings his song. The cows all answer, "Moo."

Right over the fence there are eight more black and white cows that also wear bells, held in place by yellow ribbons.

They have names like "Sunflower," "Button Eyes" and "Jelly Roll."

The cows belong to Cowgirl Sue who owns the Waddle Ranch.

She has gold hair and blue eyes. Sue loves her cows. She rides out into the pasture on her horse, stands up in the saddle, twirls a rope, and sings her come-home song. The cows all answer, "Moo."

Now, a long fence separates the Biddle Ranch from the Waddle Ranch so the cows can't mingle. But that all changes the day a wind blows down from Arkansas.

It's no ordinary wind. First the clouds are blown into thin strips that look like lengths of ribbon floating around.

Then a funnel starts picking things up. It misses the barns, the hay, the cows and Gene and Sue, but it picks up the fence that separates the cows.

So now the sixteen cows are mingling all right, and Sue doesn't like it one bit. She begins singing her come-home song.

The trouble 'is that Gene is also singing his come-home song.

All sixteen cows answer, "Moo."

First, the cows follow Gene. Then they follow Sue. The cows are confused. (The narrator of the story makes a point, however: "Cows aren't too bright.")

The sixteen cows go one way. Then they go the other. Pretty soon they're pooped. What to do?

This funny book, all done in rhyme, is intended for readers ages 3 to 7, but all ages will enjoy it.

"Sixteen Cows" is published by Voyager Books (Harcourt) 2006. The paperback book is $6. ISBN 0-15-205592-4.

Copyright Diane Prather; 2007. All rights reserved.

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