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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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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