Audrey (cow) – Dan Bar-el (illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss)
Audrey is a cow with poetry in her blood, who yearns for the greener pastures beyond Bittersweet Farms. But when Roy the horse tells this bovine dreamer that she is headed for Abbot’s War, the slaughter house, Audrey knows that she must leave her home and friends sooner than she ever imagined. With the help of a whole crew of animals and humans alike, Audrey attempts to escape the farm she lives on–and certain death. Cleverly written as an oral account, this unique illustrated tale of an animal on the run, told “to camera”, uses over thirty narrative voices, including six humans, four cows, three sheep, two sheep dogs, one pig and a very silly rooster. Full of heart and humor, Audrey (cow) is ultimately a very human story about life and death, friendship, and holding on to one’s dreams–based more or less on a true story.
I’m not normally a fan of animal-centric stories. I generally enjoy MAGICAL animals (who doesn’t love unicorns/dragons/centaurs, etc?), but farm animals aren’t really my thing. The only exception I could think of was Charlotte’s Web (which is actually on my list of ten books that have never left me).
And then I read Audrey (cow) and I remembered that I genuinely like cows.
Audrey is a sweet and sassy story told from an amazing angle – an “oral account”. Basically, a variety of different animals tell their side of the story: how they were involved, what they thought about it, how it affected them. It’s a fun way to get the story across and Bar-el did a great job coming up with different “voices” for each character.
Despite my fear of birds, I especially liked the crows who talked like “teenagers” and were very funny in their short on-screen time. Boris the skunk was also a delight. Basically, all the animals had their moments to shine (a sheep tornado!! It’s like sharknado but BETTER).
Plus, it has a happy ending for Audrey and her friends which made me smile.
Also “Abbot’s War” – which I didn’t get until several pages in, but then I found it hilarious (spoiler alert: it’s how the animals pronounce “abattoir” aka a slaughterhouse).
The illustrations in this book are lovely and a perfect fit for the story. Audrey oozes sweetness and the animals look the way they “sound” (if that makes sense).