‘UNDERNEATH A COW’ – LAUNCH by Carol Ann Martin
Madge the cow, heroine of my new picture book, is a country girl through and through. It therefore seemed fitting that Underneath a Cow should have a good old country-style launch.
Sunday, August 23rd was a chilly afternoon in Cygnet, but inside the Southern Swan Bookshop all was snug and bright. A log fire, silver teapots, fine china and cake-stands laden with slices, cupcakes and scones created just the right kind of winter cosiness for enjoying some book talk and story-telling. There were, of course, plenty of mums, dads, grandparents, aunties and friends there to check out Madge and hopefully buy the book. But the special guests were fans who ranged in age from two years to ten – and they were there to have fun.
Bruny Island children’s author Anne Morgan and CBCA Tasmania committee member Jessie Mahjouri had gone full out with ideas and skills to make it a thoroughly entertaining afternoon, featuring craft, colouring in, wonderful masks of characters from the book, a treasure hunt and, of course, a reading of the story. Local musicians Paul Martin, Malcolm Martin and Brad Madigan played some lively jazz for a singalong, and especially for the Underneath a Cow Song which is a highlight of the book.
Underneath a Cow is the story of the Great Big Terrible Awful Storm that creeps up one afternoon and catches quite a few small creatures literally on the hop and in need of shelter. Fortunately, dear, kind, caring Madge is there in the middle of the field and she is able to gather Lally rabbit, Robinson the dog, momma Cackalina and her chicks, plus a very slow echidna named Spike, safely underneath her ample tum. When the storm breaks, it is a scary experience indeed, but Madge is a brave cow as well as everything else and her advice is to “Sing dears! Sing for all you are worth!”
The song does the trick and the storm abates. One by one the animals leave the shelter of their friendly cow and make their way home. Spike mutters that it is just as well that they were in a safe place, leaving Madge to muse that as well as being in a safe place, sometimes we have to be a safe place.
Several reviewers have picked up on the shelter and safety aspect of the story and have pointed out that this is a good topic for discussion with young children.
Of course, the hilarious and heart-warming pictures by New South Wales illustrator Ben Wood are the perfect complement to Madge’s story and I couldn’t be more grateful to Ben for capturing the whole feel of the book so imaginatively.
Madge and I will be guests at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart, 11am on Sunday, 18th October and would love to meet anyone who can come along. You can also meet me on my blog site Carol Ann Martin Writing for Children, http://carolannmartin.blogspot.com.au/