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'Something to Tell the Grandcows'

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[SEPT. 23, 2004]  "Something to Tell the Grandcows," by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 29 pages, ages 5 to 8.

Something to Tell the GrandcowsReview by
Marlene Perry

"Wanted -- A Few Good Cows," said the poster. Emmadine the cow realized that this was her opportunity for an adventure worthy of telling her "grandcows" for years to come. Admiral Richard E. Byrd was looking for a few good cows to take on an expedition to the South Pole in 1933, and Emmadine was up to the challenge.

Eileen Spinelli has written a tale of adventure, loosely based on a historical event, told from the point of view of Emmadine, a cow. Children always enjoy animals that act like humans, so they will love this sweet cow who has a grand adventure and comes home to tell her grandkids -- I mean grandcows -- all about it.

Emmadine wanted to have more to tell her grandcows about than just her daily routine of swatting horseflies and chasing crows out of the corn. So Emmadine, along with other cows and sled dogs, boarded Admiral Byrd's ship for the long voyage to the South Pole.

After many weeks of being seasick, she donned her warmest woolen socks and scarf for the arrival at the South Pole, the coldest place on earth. Emmadine was amazed at what she saw! Seals and whales were swimming, and penguins were sliding and playing on the ice. These were new and strange-looking animals that certainly had never been seen on her farm back home. Wait until she told her grandcows about them!


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That first night, Emmadine was very tired as she waited for the sun to go down -- but the sun seemed stuck in the sky. The cowherd explained that in summer the sun never sets at the South Pole but shines all day and all night. My, wouldn't the grandcows be surprised to hear this!

The wind blew and icicles tinkled, but the cows were happy in their new home. Emmadine wondered, if this were summer at the South Pole, what would winter be like? In time, she found out
-- even colder and icier, and dark all day and all night. The cows had to stay in the barn all the time. They soon grew bored of this, so Emmadine taught the other cows to dance. Even the cowherd danced the winter away. Wouldn't the grandcows laugh to hear about this!

When spring came again, the animals were finally on their way home. Emmadine had so much to tell the grandcows! What a welcome she received when she returned home. Farmer Fergus, a crowd of cheering people and a brass band were all there. Even the president of the United States was there to present Emmadine with a shiny gold medal. "Oh, wouldn't the grandcows be amazed! And of course they were."

Bill Slavin has created acrylic paintings of Emmadine and her many adventures that will bring this picture book to life for reader and young child alike. His illustrations convey the icy cold of the South Pole, as well as the warm glow of the candlelit barn during the long, dark winter.

You can read this book and others by visiting the Youth Services Department of the Lincoln Public Library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-5732.

[Marlene Perry, Lincoln Public Library District]

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