The Bookworm Sez:
A gorgeous kids book that also makes ‘noise’

“A Symphony of Cowbells” by Heather Preeusser and Eileen Ryan Ewen c.2017, Sleeping Bear Press, $16.99 / higher in Canada, 32 pages

Your dad says he can’t work without his sounds.

He’s in the kitchen, and the radio is playing.

He’s in the garage, and he’s got the stereo on near the workbench.

“A Symphony of Cowbells” by Heather Preeusser and Eileen Ryan Ewen c.2017, Sleeping Bear Press, $16.99 / higher in Canada, 32 pages

Outside, he brings his boombox. No music, no work. It’s that simple, and in “A Symphony of Cowbells” by Heather Preusser and Eileen Ryan Ewen, you’ll see that Dad’s not alone.

Every spring, when the weather finally got warmer, Petra had a job to do: she took her family’s cows up to the high meadows. There, they’d dine on fresh, green grass so that their best milk could be turned into the finest cheeses.

At that time of year, when the sun shined brightly in Gimmelwald, the high meadows were at their noisiest.

Each of Petra ’s cows wore a bell around her neck. All day long, it was “Da-ding, da-ding. Jingle-jangle, jingle-jangle. Clang-clong-clank, clang-clong-clank.” Elfi, Petra ’s favorite cow, wore the biggest bell and it went “Brrring-BONG, brrrring-BONG.”

But one day, Petra noticed silence. Elfi wasn’t wearing her bell, and that made the poor cow very embarrassed.

Petra ’s dad said there was no time to look around, that Elfi would have to do without a bell, but Elfi was having none of that. Petra and her father tried to make her go to the high meadows without a bell, but Elfi placed her feet into a rut and refused to move. Petra tried to find a different bell for Elfi to wear, but nothing else would do. Elfi wanted her special bell, and that was that.

Even the other cows noticed that Elfi was naked without her bell. They seemed to laugh at her and, because none of the other cows wanted to move until they were all in harmony, the entire herd laid down in the meadow.

Petra begged. She needed Elfi to “MOOOVE!” but the cow stayed put. Petra looked everywhere for the missing brass bell, but it was nowhere to be found and Petra ’s father worried. There would be no milk. There would be no cheese!

But then, while Petra was picking flowers in the field, she spotted something. Wait – could Elfi’s bell be just over the hill?

Your child’s in another room, and he’s quiet. Does that make you want to run and look? Silence signals mischief in many homes, and that’s exactly how it is in “A Symphony of Cowbells.”

Controlled noise is what author Heather Preusser offers your child, with a story that absolutely needs sound effects to make it better. In addition, kids will find humor in this book, thanks to artist Eileen Ryan Ewen’s work; her Elfi is stubbornly funny but also very sweet-tempered.

Kids will fall in love with the foot-stomping, bell-wearing fashionista-cow in illustration and story. Parents will adore the subtle Swiss-clockwork drawings that accompany both.

Timeless, charming, and gorgeous, this book is one your 5-to-8-year-old will reach for again and again. For sure, though, try reading “A Symphony of Cowbells” out loud.

Your child will like the sound of that.

Terri Schlichenmeyer