Audrey (Cow) – A Reading Staycation

As part of my Reading Staycation project we’re looking at children’s books from B.C.-based authors/illustrators, and I’ve got another great title to share with you today. Who knew that my home province was also home to so many talented creators?!

Audrey (Cow) by Dan Bar-el is the funny, heartfelt story of a plucky cow and her bid for freedom. Audrey dreams of a life beyond her home in Bittersweet Farms, and when a fellow inhabitant warns her that she is headed for the slaughterhouse, Audrey decides that she has no choice but to mount a daring escape from the farm and set out on her own.

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The story of a farm animal longing for freedom is nothing new – we’ve had Wilbur, Babe, even Ivan the gorilla. What makes Audrey (Cow) so engaging is the way the story is framed. Audrey’s story is recounted by over thirty different narrative voices , who tell the story “to the camera”, as if participating in a documentary. This variety of narrators allows for some engaging changes in perspective and perception, and provides great moments of heart and humour.

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Tatjana Mai-Wyss’ charming, elegant pencil illustrations complement the poetic text beautifully, creating an almost nostalgic atmosphere.

I’m not the only person who enjoyed Audrey (Cow) – it’s been nominated or shortlisted for a number of awards, including the:

  • Governor General’s Award
  • Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Red Cedar Book Award
  • Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Maine Student Book Award

It also received a bunch of starred reviews from the likes of Kirkus, School Library Journal and Quill & Quire.

Dan Bar-el is a Vancouver-based award-winning children’s book writer, educator, storyteller and educator who has worked as a preschool teacher, actor, playwright and comedian. You can find more about him on his website, and check out this interview with him on The Book Wars.