Monday, September 26, 2011

Cows Can't Jump: "I Wike Dat Stowy"

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I don't review tons of picture books, but I do read a lot of them to my younger kids. My 2-year-old generally prefers stories involving at least one Disney princess and my 6-year-old usually gravitates toward non-fiction books on boy topics (cars, boats, construction vehicles, etc.). However, when I asked my little critics who wanted to listen to a story, three of them piled onto the couch with me (my 12-year-old has the flu, otherwise I'm *sure* he would have joined us :]). Surrounded by a trio of warm bodies, I opened up Cows Can't Jump by Dave Reisman. Giggles ensued. When we got to the end of the story, all three agreed it was a keeper. I didn't love it quite as much as the kids did, but I truly believe that when it comes to picture books, children know best.

The story follows a simple pattern - it shows something an animal can't do (i.e. jump), then something it can (i.e. swim). Not all of the verbs used in the book are that self-explanatory, however. Some of the animals scurry or glide or wallow, which leads to questions and, thus, vocabulary development. By focusing on things the animals can do, the book also helps kids practice positive thinking about others and themselves. The bright, colorful illustrations (by Jason A. Mass) keep children interested, prompting smiles when an unexpected animal shows up. All in all, it's a fun, informative book that doesn't feel educational. My 2-year-old summed it up pretty well when she proclaimed, "I wike dat stowy."

My favorite picture books usually have a memorable rhythm (The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault; Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.), stunning pictures (On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman) or a theme that's surprising/touching/funny/unique (Love You Forever by Robert Munsch; Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle). This one didn't have any of these elements or anything that really made it stick out for me. Still, it's a fun, warmhearted story that's short enough to keep kids' attention, even after many readings. I appreciate its message, its subtle teaching, and the fact that my kids enjoyed it. Really, I'm not sure there is a better endorsement out there than this, so I'll repeat my toddler's enthusiastic, "I wike dat story" and weave it at dat.

(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything, can you?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G

To the FTC, with love: I received two signed, finished copies of Cows Can't Jump from the generous folks at Jumping Cow Press. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Keeping in mind you don't review picture books in general, I have two children's books that I just LOVE and I (not just my kids) can't get enough of them. Both are very good in the rhythmic department. I highly HIGHLY recommend them and they make fantastic teacher gifts for K and 1st grade teachers...
    "'Stand Back,' Said the Elephant, 'I am Going To Sneeze!'" and "The Hiccupotamus." LOVE them with a capital L-O-V-E.

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