Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Day the Cow Sneezed

Originally written and illustrated in 1957, this book had officially been tagged "hard to find" by Flora lovers. Thanks to a fresh reprinting by Enchanted Lion, more of us can be introduced to this great author and illustrator, who we otherwise may have missed out on. James Flora was a commercial artist renowned for creating amazing illustrated record covers in the 1940s and 50s. He created his first children's book, The Fabulous Firework Family in 1955, when his first baby was born. He wrote this one to prove the first one wasn't just a fluke, and many more successes followed. 

Fletcher's morning routine includes taking his cow, Floss, down to the creek for a drink of water. Distracted by a bunny rabbit one cool day, Fletcher runs off, leaving Floss to stand knee deep in that chilly creek water.  Shaking and shivering, she lets out a powerful sneeze: KA-CHOW.  That sneeze sets off a series of unfortunate events that results in an impromptu fireworks show and the release of an entire zoo. That's quite a sneeze!

Of course, there are many steps in between the cow sneeze and the big fireworks show. There happens to be a billy goat driving a policeman's motorcyle with a cat on his back, a huge hole in the side of the schoolhouse wall and a flattened out fire truck.  Not enough?  Throw in some angry townspeople and see how zoo animals fare after tangling with a steamroller.  Now that's a story!

You can see the genius of James Flora's illustrations in the photos here.  Half the pages in the book are black and white, while the other half shout with vibrant pinks and blues. James Flora is very well known for his illustrations but they are not the only wonderful thing on these pages. I like his habit of calling attention to certain words by putting them in all caps, nearly on every page: POW! WHAMBO! and my personal favorite KA-BLOWIE-BLAM! I also enjoy the language he uses, specific phrases such as "scrunched as flat as corn flakes." It's just plain good reading paired with some spellbinding illustrations that make this a book you won't want to miss.   

Publisher Claudia Zoe Bedrick is a Floraphile, and depending on the success of the first reprint, Enchanted Lion will continue to republish two Flora titles a year.  This is much needed news as only a handful of Flora books are currrently available on Amazon. I can't wait to hear what other books will be offered!  The dedication on the inside cover of this one reads "For Caroline Flora: An early-mooing non-sneezer." Based on this book, I think I could easily become a Floraphile myself.   

Review copy provided by Enchanted Lion. 

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