By Lachie Hume
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 13, 2007)
Australian author Lachie Hume’s first picture book about a cow who dares to be different is charming and funny, but contains a serious message. Clancy the cow “was born on a stormy day, a day of great disappointment to his parents.” Clancy is a Belted Galloway–a black cow with a white stripe–but he has been born without a belt! As a result, he is shunned from the rest of the herd, and goes to great lengths to try and fit in. He rolls in the snow, bandages his middle, and even paints himself–only to find that he will always be different.
Not only does Clancy have to contend with feeling like an outsider with his own herd, but there is a rival group of cows–the Herefords–who have grazing rights to the field with a great deal of green grass. The Galloways are all skinny, and the Herefords are well-fed as they get to eat the best grass. There is a Cow Wrestling Contest held every year, and the Herefords have it in the bag as they are always bigger and stronger than the Galloways. However, because Clancy does NOT have a belt, he starts to sneak over to there Hereford’s side and eat the grass there at night, when nobody can see him. While he is over there, he meets Helga, an all-brown Hereford, who does not have the distinctive white and brown markings of her herd. The two outcasts form an immediate friendship.
The story reaches its climax when Clancy enters the Cow Wrestling Contest and wins, much to the happiness of the Belted Galloways. They immediately try to drive the Herefords out–only to have Clancy put his hoof down and call for the two groups to “pull down the fence and be cows together.”
I enjoyed this book greatly for a lot of reasons. The message that it’s okay to be different cannot be reiterated enough for young children, and the side jokes and cute illustrations are sure to appeal to parents. The illustrations of the various Cow Wrestling Maneuvers are sure to elicit some chuckles!
On a side note, the Author’s Note gave me a laugh:
“I wrote and illustrated the first draft of this story for a school project when I was twelve years old. My teacher gave me nine out of ten. I think perhaps she took a mark off because I called Clancy a cow instead of a bull. Clancy is technically a bull–but he’ll always be a cow to me!”