Kyle Mewburn deserves an award for being New Zealand’s hardest working children’s author this year. He’s had so many books published in 2011, from picture books to junior fiction novels. His Dinosaur Rescue series (with which he collaborates with the brilliant Donovan Bixley) is probably the best series for junior readers to come out of New Zealand in recent years. Kyle’s latest book is a picture book about a cow that tries to make friends with the moon, called Moon Cow.
Milly the cow thinks that the moon must be lonely up there in the sky with no-one to talk to so she decides to try and make friends with it. She stays up all night talking to the moon but “the moon didn’t say a word.” All the other cows laugh at her, saying “Silly Milly Cow! Talking to the moon!” Each night the moon gets brighter and closer as Milly talks, dances and juggles for the moon, but the moon stays silent. Will the moon ever talk to Milly and share its secrets with her?
Moon Cow is an absolutely stunning picture book. It’s one of those picture books where the text and illustrations are perfectly matched. Kyle’s story is gentle and touching, with just the right amount of humour. As I was reading I thought that it had a similar feel to his award-winning Hill and Hole. Deidre Copeland’s illustrations are what really make Moon Cow stand out for me. The front cover really draws the reader in and makes you want to make friends with Milly. I can just see children gushing over how cute Milly is, especially because of the way Deidre has drawn her eyes. I love the way that Deidre’s illustrations glow on the page, especially the very last page with Milly and the moon by the lake. The book’s designers should get some credit for the amazing job they have done on this book too. My only negative is that a book of this quality should have been published in hardback. Moon Cow will be a favourite with children and is sure to be a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2012.