Moo and Moo and Little Calf Too

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Jane Millton (text) and Deborah Hinde (illustration), Moo and Moo and Little Calf Too, Allen & Unwin, November 2019, 32 pp., RRP $17.99 (pbk) ISBN: 9781877505928

Moo And Moo and Little Calf Too is the charming story of the Kaikōura’s earthquake cows, told by Jane Millton, who was inspired to write this story after watching the drama unfold on her Clarence River farm, near Kaikōura, a town on the South Island of New Zealand.

High on a hill overlooking the sea,

In the long green grass by the tōtara tree,

Moo and Moo and the little calf too

Were sleeping together as all cows do.

Told in rhyming verse, this picture book focuses on the real-life adventure of three Hereford cows who found themselves shaken awake, just after midnight by a massive earthquake in the Clarence Valley.

As the valley all around the little trio of cows shifts and lifts, they find themselves ‘surfing’ atop a small, grassy platform of land.

On and on, past the trough and the tank,

Past the tōtara and the tussock

And their favourite grassy bank.

Then down, down, down with a rumble and a roar,

Until their ride ended at the valley floor.

Stranded, the savvy Hereford cows decide to stay put and are finally rescued by some brave farmers who, hacking and digging a path through the rocks, finally get the relieved cattle to safety.

Deborah Hinde’s beautiful illustrations delicately capture the individual expressions of each Hereford cow throughout the story, whilst managing to depict the sheer power and devastation of the Kaikōura earthquake as it lifted the sea bed from the water and carved up the Clarence Valley.

Ultimately a tale of bravery in the face of adversity and of helping those around us, Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too provides a great ‘way-in’ for discussing this huge natural disaster with children. The book also includes information about the story and related facts for adults sharing this tale with young readers, who may wish to learn more.

Reviewed by Lisa Hoad Mercer

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