Included in the Victorian, N.SW., and S.A. premier’s reading challenge.
Things on Geribilt Farm have gone from bad to worse! Twelve-year-old Red has no money to by painting supplies; his dad needs an expensive operation, and neither brother Luke nor sister Tara can find jobs. Not even Red’s best friend, milk-cow Daisy, can help. Or can she? When a mysterious stranger offers Red hundreds of dollars in exchange for Daisy’s cow-pats extraordinary things start to happen…
Review: Posted by Sally Murphy, 2004.
Red’s best friend is his cow, Daisy. He likes her because he knows he can tell her everything and, although she’ll listen, she won’t tell a soul. But the last thing Red expects is that Daisy will help solve the family’s money problems. Not only is there a drought, but Red’s dad is also sick. He needs an operation. Red’s big brother, Luke, and his sister Tara are both out of work. The family farm is going to be taken over by the bank. And Red has no money for art supplies. Then, unexpectedly, a stranger comes to visit. Red doesn’t understand a word he says, but he eventually translates his sign language enough to understand that the Stranger wants to buy Daisy’s cow-pats. Red does not understand why anyone would pay hundreds of dollars for cow-pats, but he does know that all this money could be the answer to the family’s problems.
Cow-Pats is a humorous novel for 8 to 12 year old readers (the targeted reading age is 11). As well as being a fun read, it also has subtle messages about family, friendship and even about what makes art works ‘great’.
Extract from Chapter 1.
“I suppose you want to know what the Stranger looks like. Well, all I can tell you is that he’s short. Even shorter than me. A floppy hat hides most of his face. His coat seems three sizes too big.
Then there’s his feet. HUMUNGUS. Picture a penguin with elephant feet. Or a chook in size twenty boots.
First time he comes to Geribilt Farm, it’s afternoon milking. Daisy and me, we’re in the cowshed. Daisy’s my best friend. Now maybe you’re asking – how come a milk-cow is my best friend? You see, Daisy’s never, ever mean to me. Least, never on purpose. Not even last summer when the blow-flies were bothering her so much, she kicked out and nearly broke my leg. No, Daisy’s my best friend because I can tell her just about anything, and I know she’ll never repeat it….”
The situation Red’s family is in happens too often to those trying to run small farms in a country ravaged by weather extremes. However, this story has always been one of my favourites because of the snide comments I was able to make about art. I suppose the question is… what makes great art? How do we differentiate between sculpture, painting, media, and all those other forms that now go under that label? What will survive and what will just fade away? Perhaps in the end our judgements just come back to ‘gut feelings.’