Written by: Eric Maddern
Illustrated by: Paul Hess
Published in 2006
Genre: Picture Book, Traditional Literature
Grade Level: K-3
Summary: Based on a well-known European folktale, The Cow on the Roof is a story about a farmer (Shon) and his wife (Sian). One evening, after a long and hard day of working, Shon comes home and starts complaining that he does all of the hard work around the farm. Sian suggests that they switch places the next day, and Shon readily agrees thinking that he will have an easy day of rest and relaxation. The next day, Shon finds out that he was very wrong in thinking that his wife does all of the easy jobs, as anything and everything proceeds to go wrong. In the end, Shon is happy to go back to his normal work in the fields.
If you read my review of Nail Soup you might remember that I loved the illustrations by Paul Hess. Before my latest trip to the library I looked up some of his other books, and I was very excited to find another book with not only the same illustrator, but the same author as well! I’m delighted to say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I think The Cow on the Roof is my favorite of the two books.
First of all, as soon as I saw the cover I knew it had to be a Paul Hess book. I recognized his style of illustration immediately. It’s really beautiful and the colors are exciting and eye-catching.
The illustrations themselves are really fun and interesting to look at. I loved searching for Hess’s signature image, the three blind mice, which he includes in all the books he illustrates. They were bit more difficult to find this time than in Nail Soup, which made the search much more interesting.
The fonts used in the book also helped to enhance the story. Certain phrases were typed in a larger size, and were often in a completely different font than the rest of the text in order to provide emphasis. One phrase that was repeated over and over again throughout the book was “Gone is gone.” This phrase was always made to look different and important, sometimes with other words added in as well.
The story itself is what really made me enjoy this book more than Nail Soup. I found the storyline to be both interesting and humorous. With every action taken by Shon, you knew something was about to go wrong. I think this would be a great story to help students working on their prediction skills, as each action leads to some sort of problem for Shon.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, from the story to the illustrations. Eric Maddern and Paul Hess make a great team, and I will continue to look for books by either one or both of them.
I give The Cow on the Roof five stars!