Thursday, June 19, 2014

Minnie and Moo: Hooves of Fire, by Denys Cazet

If you haven't discovered the world of Minnie and Moo, the fantastic farmyard series by Denys Cazet, I highly recommend them. Magda and I just love them!

Minnie and Moo are--as you may have guessed--a couple of cows who live on a farm and are always getting into misadventures, mostly brought on by their own grand expectations of life. They go dancing, they see the world, they solve mysteries, and--best of all--they are constantly thinking of ways to improve their farm. But of course it often goes a little bit wrong. They are, after all, not that smart, being just cows. They're certainly very smart for cows, and sometimes it seems they're even smarter than their perpetually slacking farmers, but they have their limits.

And that's when the books are at their most delightful.

In this book, the bovine pair have decided to host the First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival, an inter-farm talent show and fundraiser (the farmer needs a new tractor). They've arranged for various acts in the talent show, though it may be harder than they thought to keep things running smoothly. Elvis the Rooster won't leave the stage. The Boarzini brothers who are acting as security guards have their hands full with weasels, coyotes, foxes and hyenas (why were they even invited??) and the cash box has a habit of going missing. Oh, and there's an unscheduled port-a-potty race that is both hilarious and icky.

Since my daughter is only four, we read this chapter book together one chapter at a time over a course of about a week or so. It reads well this way, because for most of the book each chapter is a different stage act. So the sheep and their protest song is one chapter, the jazz poet pig is another, the dancing bull is another, etc. There were times throughout the book that both Magda and I were laughing out loud at the animals' antics. I will say that some of the animal acts weren't that easy to read aloud, however, since they involved long passages of song lyrics which I had to figure out how to sing. I'm not sure I did most of them justice.

There were also a few things I decided to edit a little for my very young child as I was reading it. Some of the animals say things to each other or as part of their talent show performances that were a little more rude than I'd like for a four-year-old. Things like calling each other "fatso" or songs about "ugly women who at least could cook" (except of course it wasn't "women" but cows or pigs, etc.) weren't so cool with me. So I changed those a little bit as I was reading it. But I also know that the intended audience is a little older than my child, so not everyone would necessarily be bothered by this.

Even still, the book had many more good points than bad points, and I'm definitely a fan of the series. Magda and I have read another chapter book in the series, Minnie and Moo and the Seven Wonders of the World (also about improving the farm in grand and misguided ways) and we both loved it. Better still, there are numerous Minnie and Moo books that are for younger readers, so if your child likes them then she or he can grow with the characters. Genius!

"Mommy, can we read another chapter of Minnie and Moo and the Hoofs of Fire"?

--We already finished it, honey.

"Oh. Oh yeah. Well I really liked it! I liked Elvis the Rooster. He was so ridiculous. Even when it wasn't his turn on stage he kept wanting to be on stage. And everyone kept saying, 'No, Elvis! You already had your turn!' but he wouldn't listen. Oh that Elvis." (rolls her eyes)

--I know. He wouldn't listen to the cows! Like Minnie and Moo and Irene...

"Mommy! Irene was a rhinoceros! Not a cow!" (shakes her head)

--Was she a rhino? Oh my goodness, I should know this. We JUST finished it...

"Yeah, see? That's why we should read it again. You've already forgotten about Irene! But I remember because her name reminded me of that book Brave Irene and I was thinking well I bet Irene in this book is brave too, and then I was thinking well of course she would be because she's a rhinoceros and rhinos seem very brave, I mean they do have a horn..." (this went on for some time)

Bottom line: Magda thinks we should re-read the whole thing again right away because it is awesome and because she is worried about her mother's memory.

Minnie and Moo: Hooves of Fire
Written and illustrated by Denys Cazet
Series: Minnie and Moo
Publisher: Creston Books
Publication Date:July 15, 2014
View on Amazon

Source: review copy from publicist

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