Review of Moo

Moo
by Sharon Creech
Intermediate, Middle School    Cotler/HarperCollins    278 pp.
8/16    978-0-06-241524-0    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-241525-7    $17.89    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-241527-1    $6.99

Sick of city life and having recently lost their jobs, Reena’s parents decide to move to Maine, to a small coastal town. It’s summer, and twelve-year-old Reena and younger brother Luke are free to enjoy the newfound thrill of riding their bikes wherever they want. But then their parents insist that they help an elderly neighbor, and the city kids are soon mucking out the barn for an ornery woman’s equally ornery cow. The eccentric lady seems pretty witchlike at first with her tilted house and strange menagerie; in addition to Zora the cow, there’s a cat, hog, parrot, and snake. Her name — Mrs. Falala — however, hints at a much less foreboding nature, as does the lilting flute music the children hear her playing. Just as cranky Zora comes to enjoy the cow companion the kids insist she needs, Mrs. Falala’s sour temperament improves with the company of her new friends, especially Luke, who shares her love of art. Reena’s narrative uses a comfortable combination of prose, poems, and prose poems, while changing fonts, type sizes, and type placement help express emotion, drama, action, and mood. The story zips along yet somehow conveys the slow growth of trust and friendship between young and old, human and bovine. It’s Reena who first suggests they move to Maine, because she’s read three books that made her 
feel “I was there already / in my mind”; Creech’s novel memorably does the same.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jennifer M. Brabander
Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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