THE SILVER COW

A WELSH TALE

Hutton's grave, spare, muted watercolors—with their soft expanses of Welsh mountain meadows, lake, and sky—nicely suit this grave, measured, quiet tale. But whether the ensemble will attract many children of picture-book age is doubtful. The story centers on "mean," niggardly farmer Gwilym Hughes; his harp-playing son Huw, prevented from going to school by his father's penury; and the silver cow sent out of the lake by the magic people, the Tylwyth Teg, in response to Huw's harp-playing. The silver cow mates with farmer Hughes' black Welsh cattle—"and every calf to which she gave birth was silver-gleaming as herself, and grew up to give milk as marvelous as her own." Farmer Hughes grows rich, but no more inclined to let Huw go to school. And when the silver cow grows too old to give milk, he doesn't hesitate to call the butcher—whereupon a voice comes from the lake, "sweet as the song of a lark rising, but cold with rage," calling the silver cows home. Farmer Hughes is ruined, and Huw sets off—pausing at the lake, where the surface is "starred now with the broad floating blossoms of white water-lilies. . . . " Quite lovely, and even stirring, as pictured—for the occasional, dreamier child.

Pub Date: April 21, 1983

ISBN: 0689715129

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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