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by Carolyn Lesser, illustrated by Melissa Bay Mathis

Published by Knopf, 1995


TIME, magazine, December 11, 1995


     “What a Wonderful Day to Be a Cow,” is a calendar of gentle, friendly pastel illustrations of farm animals…kittens, piglets, barn swallows, mice…simple enough for a first book and with enough detail to be interesting for the first couple of years of being read to.


School Library Journal, January 1995


     This enormously appealing concept book guides readers through the 12 months on a farm.  It is also a prose poem, using repeated phrases that even the youngest children will quickly echo.  What sets it apart from the crowd is the surprisingly fresh language that Lesser employs to describe rather ordinary picture book subjects: kittens sleep “in a purring heap,” bluebird babies are born “in a tree of flowers, a garden in the sky.”  Chicks rush away in “a stampede of yellow fluff,” etc.  In addition, a few unusual animals often living around farms….barn swallows, red-tailed hawks, and crickets are included.  


     Mathis enhances the story with evocative paintings in pastels.  She uses vibrant colors and interesting perspectives across the mostly double-page spreads, and exhibits noteworthy skill with light.  The concluding pages are breathtaking, with their vivid imagery in both word and art:

“The barn is a sturdy ship sailing on billows of snow, keeping the animals warm and snug and safe until spring.  What a wonderful thins it is to live on a farm all the days of the year.”


There should be a place in most collections for this treasure. 

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