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.


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.


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.

Nonfiction Wednesday – Aug 17, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2016 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.

The Toad

Elise Gravel is back with another entry in her so-gross-it’s-cute Disgusting Critters series! Having looked at such icky critters as slugs, flies, spiders, worms and head lice, this newest critter doesn’t really seam all that disgusting by comparison! It’s time for the common toad to get the Disgusting Critters treatment, and once again Gravel blends interesting facts with silly illustrations to create a very kid-friendly nonfiction entry-level graphic novel.

Part of a book for kids that I’m working on. Toads and frogs: we need them! #kidlit #science #illustration

I’ve used this series twice with my Early Readers’ Book Clubs at the library, and plan to use them again in the future. I love being able to give the kids some choice in what they read, while still creating that traditional book club atmosphere where everyone talks about the same book. In our last meeting we created little books about our different animals, which allowed the kids to take on the role of expert and teach their friends all about the different disgusting critters.

The Disgusting Critters series is so much fun because it introduces kids to the idea that nonfiction can actually be read for enjoyment and recreation, and that fun and educational need not be mutually exclusive. Informational texts can be cartoony, silly, light-hearted, and still informational.

Elise Gravel is Canadian, too, which makes the whole thing even better. 🙂