Of course cows can fly—just ask Gertrude.

An entertaining and amusing children's book from 1993, written and delightfully illustrated with colorful, dappled, folky paintings by Paul Brett Johnson. Winner of the School Library Journal "Best Book of the Year," The New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, and an American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists," it is a simple tale of a stubborn cow who decides she's going to fly and refuses to come down (despite it being a "known fact cows don't fly").

You see, Gertrude has a mind of her own and when she puts that mind to something, she is hard to dissuade. So when she begins flying around the sky over the farm, looping and figure-eighting, Miss Rosemary is concerned. Sure, it's partly because she worries what the neighbors will say, but—really—how does one milk a flying cow?

The book is the narrative of how Miss Rosemary tries to persuade Gertrude to return to earth. Children will find the scene when she rolls off the roof, exposing her bloomers, complete with a flock of printed little yellow ducks, particularly funny. But it is the final plan that show's Miss Rosemary is just as determined to get her cow back as the cow is determined to continue floating around the sky.

She decides to make Gertrude jealous and advertises an opening for a new cow:


Then she sews and stuffs herself a mockcow to convince Gertrude she is being replaced ("NO COWS NEEDED! POSITION FILLED."). Perhaps the ending is a bit easy to see coming (maybe even for children) but seeing a cow divebomb and tackle a stuffed mockcow—complete with button eyes and rollerskate feet—is worth it.

But what of the restless Gertrude? Will she be satisfied with a life of "munching grass and swishing her tail, as cows are supposed to do"? Maybe, maybe not. But as Miss Rosemary observes, "It's a known fact cows don't drive tractors."

A short book, but a good one for children, with its good humor and its bright, almost glowing colors. Much of the background is painted in an almost pointillistic way, which is effective in giving texture to walls, foliage, and the rolling hills of Miss Rosemary's farm. And pointillism (more evocative of the style than a deliberate attempt to be another Seurat) always shines its best in scenes of the sun and the horizon, especially in the glowing embers of an orange and yellow sunset.

Pipelinks made possible with a grant from the Milk Council. moo.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.