Author : Phyllis Root
Illustrations by : Will Hillenbrand
Age range recommended : 3+
Theme : Kindness, giving
Opening lines –
Mama May lived where the earth met the sky, and her house was as wide as the prairie. It needed to be.
Mama May had so many children she couldn't count them all. Among Mama May's children was one called Annalisa. She wasn't the youngest and she wasn't the oldest, but she was the most curious and the most stubborn.
Every day Annalisa followed Mama May as she carried her two shiny milk pails to the meadow where she kept Luella, her magic cow with the beautiful brown eyes and bright curving horns.
Introduction and Synopsis –
Annalisa watches everyday how Mama May sings a magic song for Luella to give them 2 pails full of milk so that the children can have milk for breakfast and soft, chewy cheese for supper. And she also watches with disgust how Mama May kisses Luella on the end of her nose everyday to express her thanks for the milk. One day, her curiosity gets the better of her and off she goes with a tiny bucket to see how it feels to milk a magic cow. She does everything that Mama May does and gets her milk - but, oh-oh - she does not kiss Luella on her nose, making the kind cow very sad. The next day, when Mama May fails to get any milk from Luella, it doesn't take her long to guess what would have happened. In spite of repeated pleas from Mama May and even after all the children go hungry at breakfast and supper that day, Annalisa refuses to kiss 'a slobbery, bristly cow'.
Do the children go hungry the next day as well? Does Annalisa realise that it is as important to give than to just take and leave?
Why did my caterpillar and I like this book?
I loved the girl's name - Annalisa. The water colour illustrations are beautiful. Luella with tears in her eyes, waiting for some love from Annalisa makes an endearing sight - animals, like us, also crave for love. I guess somewhere the message also is sent across that children have to take responsibility for their doings. It might take a larger attention span to go through the whole story but the little ones will still appreciate it. I guess somewhere the idea of Mama May is of a woman who by herself cares for so many children, shown across race and colour.
MY TINY CATERPILLAR -
She was very surprised about one Mama having so many children and all of them living in such a 'long' house!! But she liked the pictures. Somehow, the story was a little confusing for her - she couldn't really answer why Luella wouldn't give milk. I then explained to her the reason and in the end told her that you have to be responsible for what you do and when Annalisa did not do that, she had to learn it in due course. She was happy in the end when Annalisa kissed Luella and the sight of the happy, smiling cow brought a smile to her own face and a a big kiss on mommy's. :-)
Online link -
We found this link to the story on You Tube, though it doesn't have the entire story.
The cocoon rates it -
The book is a very good read-aloud story. Little children might need some guidance around the story. The story is one that we feel can be read over a long time, as it would be appreciated by younger children and older, understanding better as they grow bigger.