Mario and the Cow

Hamilton Stone/Irene Weinberger Bks. Dec. 2018. 34p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780979598661.
K-Gr 2–A young boy on holiday in the country attempts to help out on his family’s farm in this gentle picture book. Grandpa asks Mario to watch the family’s cow to “see that she doesn’t get into any mischief.” “Remember, she has to stay tied to that stake,” Grandpa warns. “I can do that,” Mario promises. But when he notices that the cow has eaten all the grass she can reach, Mario decides to untie her and take her to a new patch. Of course, the cow has her own plans, and Mario quickly finds himself clinging to the rope, dragging along behind her. Rather suddenly, the cow stops and allows herself to be led back to the stake. When Grandpa returns, a quick glance at the loose knot is enough to decode what happened, but he congratulates Mario on a “good job.” As the two head home, Grandpa commenting wryly on Mario’s dirty clothes, the narrative ends abruptly with a disappointingly didactic statement about following instructions. Adalberto Ortiz’s line drawings provide understated humor through visual cues and imbue both Mario and the cow with movement and personality. Miguel Antonio Ortiz’s straightforward text affirms Mario’s good intentions, but sweet moments of intergenerational understanding are spoiled by the final attempt at moralizing.
VERDICT A solid secondary purchase for larger library collections, and for those in need of picture books with Latinx characters and settings

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