THIS IS A SEA COW by Cassandra Federman


Age Range: 4 - 8
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The manatee subject of a school report objects so strongly to being compared to a cow that she barges in to correct the writer.

This engaging account is disguised as a homework assignment on marine mammals. Federman’s report is written by hand, in pencil, on lined paper, but the manatee in her crayon illustrations comes to life, commenting on the text in speech bubbles that contain large, legible type. She’s not a cow. She’s sure she’s not related to an elephant but is quite taken with being seen as a mermaid. Various interesting facts are conveyed in the process, and there are more (from the manatee) in an afterword. Federman’s manatee is basically a shmoo-shaped blue blob with eyes, an expressive snout and mouth, and a tail instead of legs, but in the frontmatter, there’s a more realistic diagram, a portion of a photograph, and a portion of a map of the Florida coast and Belize, both places where West Indian manatees can be found. Digitally collaged art combines the paper of the report with photos of pencils and crayons to emulate a student’s workspace. Finally, there’s a mention of manatee adoption programs for readers who have also decided the manatee is their “new favorite animal.” Pair with titles by Jim Arnosky—A Manatee Morning (2000), All about Manatees (2008), or Slow Down for Manatees, (2010)—for a more detailed picture.

An appealing first look. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8075-7874-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Whitman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2019