What’s a cow to do when her family gets a pool and she’s left alone in her sunny field? Debut author Henwood’s and veteran illustrator Lemaire’s hilarious answer is a delightfully fun read-aloud.
Gracie the cow is so hot she can’t even moo. When she hears the construction on the human side of the fence, she’s curious. What are those construction vehicles doing dumping gray sludge into a big hole in the yard? Young readers will figure out what’s happening before the bovine: the farm family is getting their very own swimming pool to cool off in in the wicked heat. While the farm kids do pour water over Gracie, the relief is short, so when she realizes that the pool is a constant source of water, she charges through the fence and lets out a tremendous “MOO!” before doing “a perfect udder flop right into the deep end!” Not only does she get the water in the pool all muddy, she pees in the shallow end, a gross-out detail sure to delight kids. Despite all the family’s coaxing, once Gracie is in the pool, she intends to stay there, and it takes police cars, a water pump truck, and a crane to move her back to her own side of the fence (which gets fixed while she’s being moved). Once again too hot to moo, Gracie languishes on her side of the fence. But then the construction vehicles are back; this time, however, they’re digging a mud wallow for Gracie. While the story is probably fictional, it feels almost as though it could be real, and kids will enjoy imagining a cow doing a very cowlike dive into a human pool, especially given the gleeful expression on Gracie’s face in Lemaire’s illustration. The only quibble is that the humans are not clearly diverse—and there were opportunities to make them so. Henwood repeats the phrase “Hot, hot, hot, too hot to moo” on several pages throughout the story, giving lap readers a chance to join in chorally and take part in the story. The text design also adds a bonus feature as some of the word layout emphasizes the action: two lines ripple in blue cursive as the water is poured into the pool, and when Gracie breaks through the fence, the text cracks at an angle.
Children will love Gracie’s actions and expressions and will eagerly ask for rereads so they can chant along with the too-hot refrain.