Tag Archives: cows

Hester Saves Christmas – Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Contest

Dust off the decorations. Strike up the band. Bake, bake, bake and bake some more (especially if it’s chocolate). It’s time for

Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Contest!

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 250 words.  Entries are posted, or linked to, Susanna’s post. Grab some cocoa, scurry over & enjoy some wonderful holiday stories! You’ll be glad you did (and so will the writers, if you leave comments).

And now, for my 246-word entry…

Hester Saves Christmas

Hester loved jingling bells, the scent of sparkling pine trees, and the promise of present-filled stockings hung by Farmer O’Neill’s chimney. She especially loved stories of Santa and his reindeer.

“Mama, can I can pull Santa’s sleigh next year?” Hester asked.

“Flying reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, Hester. And everyone knows Highland Cows can’t fly.”

But I can dream, thought Hester. And practice.

She hopped over heather and thistles.

“Ouch!”

She jumped across rocky streams…almost.

            SPLASH!

She trotted uphill, leapt, and…

tumbled down a steep slope.

            Moooo…

Hester kept trying…

and trying…

and trying…

but not quite succeeding.

As Christmas drew near, Hester turned her nose from pine trees and looked away from the chimney. She hung her shaggy head. Large tears fell, freezing like a glistening beard.

“A blizzard,” sighed Farmer O’Neill on Christmas Eve.  “No presents tomorrow. Santa’s reindeer can’t fly through this mess. Into the barn, girls.”

All but one shuffled into the warm barn.

Hester trudged through deep snowdrifts. She shivered in the blustery wind and slipped on icy paths until…

She heard a faint jingle-jingle. She scrambled and spied…

Santa in his sleigh with eight grounded reindeer stuck in a snow pile.

Hester pulled, tugged and led the reindeer, sleigh and Santa along the snowy trail.

The next morning, presents filled stockings.  Laughter rang like jingling bells across the farm.

“Merry Christmas, Hester,” Farmer O’Neill said.  “Wake up! Somehow Santa came!”

Hester yawned and wondered,

Can a cow hide Easter eggs?

 

 

PPBF – The Cow Who Climbed a Tree

Regular readers know that my tastes often run towards more serious subjects told in more realistic or allegorical ways. But sometimes I read an outrageously silly book that I can’t get out of my mind. And when the main character is a Cow on a day when I’m off to visit my daughter who simply adored cows as a child, how could I not feature this Perfect Picture Book:

9780807512982_p0_v2_s192x300Title: The Cow Who Climbed a Tree

Written & Illustrated By: Gemma Merino

Publisher/date: Albert Whitman & Company/2016 (UK: Macmillan Children’s Books/2015)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Cows, dreams, creative thinking, taking chances, being true to oneself

Opening: “Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.”

Brief Synopsis: Tina the cow is an explorer, dreamer and science-lover, unlike her sisters who are happy to eat grass and live like cows. They don’t believe that Tina can climb a tree and has met a dragon until they learn otherwise.

Links to Resources:

  • Create a cow tree-climbing game by completing this sentence: If a cow can climb a tree, then I can…; share what you can do, by charade gestures, drawing or otherwise showing your dream.
  • Discuss what attributes enable some animals to climb trees; what keeps others from climbing them? What can cows do that other animals can’t do?
  • Discuss other impossible things and inventions, including famous scientists and inventors and famous female inventors.

Why I Like this Book: This is a silly book – everyone knows that cows can’t climb trees, right? Just like we know that cars can’t map routes, that people can’t walk on the moon or float in space for months, and that grandparents can’t read bedtime stories to kids on the other side of the world. Right?

Cows climbing trees may seem silly now, but who knows, someday it may happen. And even if not, I love the spunk Tina exhibits and her dreaming, risk taking, and plucky determination to push boundaries to achieve the impossible. I also love that this female-centric, dare-to-dream story is such a great conversation starter about following dreams and reaching for the impossible. And all packaged in a dream-like landscape of soft, watercolor trees and forest.

A Note about Craft:

We talk about kid-appeal and kid-centric writing quite a bit. I think Ms. Merino nailed it here: who but a kid would think up a story about a cow climbing a tree. Like our own kids who may have or had imaginary friends or a fear of a “bogey man”, this premise is entirely plausible…to a kid or someone with a kid’s perspective. Ms. Merino presents it in a very matter-of-fact way. By changing just a few words of the opening, it would read like a biography (e.g., Marie Curie was a very curious girl. She had a thirst for discovery.). The dreamy illustrations that accompany the matter-of-fact story elevate the story to one that will make kids and adults alike wonder whether this may be a dream of the future after all.

Gemma Merino won the 2016 London Evening Standard’s Oscars Book Prize for The Cow Who Climbed a Tree.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!