A Cow's Alfalfa-Bet

Overview

Black-and-white Holstein cows dot Vermont’s landscape: a visual feast of valleys and lakes dissected by the lush Green Mountains. Vermont has the highest ratio of cows to people of any state in our country: one cow for every four people who live there.
Woody Jackson has lived there for more than twenty-five years. He has watched the seasons pass from glorious autumn foliage, to winter’s many months of cold and snow, to muddy spring, to the ...

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A Cow's Alfalfa-Bet

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Overview

Black-and-white Holstein cows dot Vermont’s landscape: a visual feast of valleys and lakes dissected by the lush Green Mountains. Vermont has the highest ratio of cows to people of any state in our country: one cow for every four people who live there.
Woody Jackson has lived there for more than twenty-five years. He has watched the seasons pass from glorious autumn foliage, to winter’s many months of cold and snow, to muddy spring, to the green, green Vermont summertime. Always present are the cows.
This beautiful alphabet book will appeal to adults and young children alike.

Objects that make up life on a farm are depicted from A to Z.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Each painting stands alone as a remarkable work of art; together they create a visual ode to the beauty of the Vermont landscape. A magnificent addition to the alphabet book genre and a fitting tribute to a vanishing lifestyle." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"An alphabet book with a fresh, artistic approach." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Jackson transports his audience to Vermont with this simple alphabet book that, according to an endnote, celebrates the beauty of "the dairy farms in the Champlain Valley." A white border on each page contains a square watercolor painting that incorporates the artist's signature Holsteins (made famous by the Ben & Jerry ice cream cartons and trucks). Below each painting, a word introduces a letter of the alphabet: the first letter is enlarged and painted a solid color, the remaining letters appear in a unified black typeface. Each image captures a quiet moment of farm life: two cows walk past a field of "Corn"; a cow on a snow-covered field gazes at "Icicles"; white ducks swim by a grazing herd ("Quack"). Jackson's paintings have an impressionistic quality: in "Jerseys," for instance, golden-hued cows in the foreground appear against a band of green, black-and-white Holsteins stand behind them on a dusty-blue band, while ribbons of sunset colors (yellow, red, purple) rise up the page, culminating in an ocean-blue sky. Each painting stands alone as a remarkable work of art; together they create a visual ode to the beauty of the Vermont landscape. A magnificent addition to the alphabet book genre and a fitting tribute to a vanishing lifestyle. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author-illustrator captures in peaceful, pleasing paintings the idyllic view of life on a dairy farm in rural Vermont. He is the creator of the cows seen on Ben and Jerry ice cream cartons and trucks and every picture illustrating this alphabet book contains one or more of the bovine creatures. From A to Z, or from alfalfa to zucchini, each page has a connection to the author's vision of the farm. This is an interesting idea and the paintings add much to the book, but a couple of the words are problematical. Most of the one-word examples of the letters are simple, concrete nouns such as "barn" or "dog" so it might be confusing to the child of an age to be learning his letters to come upon a word like "Xanadu." "Xanadu" is an interesting description of how an adult might view a tranquil farm scene and older readers would also understand the word "Jerseys" placed beneath a drawing of cows, but most toddlers would not. Nonetheless, the charming paintings have a soothing quality making this book worthwhile for kids. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 3 to 6.
—Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Jackson has created 26 beautiful watercolor paintings-one for each letter of the alphabet from alfalfa to zucchini. His flat stylistic designs capture the New England countryside in each season. The clear, vibrant colors of the backgrounds give contrast and balance to the black-and-white cows found in each illustration. The resulting patterns are a visual delight. Offset by a white border, each one has a single word beneath it. Most of the items representing the letters will be familiar to children-dog, garden, moon, and tractor. The few unfamiliar things like alfalfa and Xanadu will stimulate questions, explanation, and discussion. An alphabet book with a fresh, artistic approach.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Vermont artist Jackson, best known for the distinctive cows decorating cartons of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, strews a string of rural landscapes with similarly eyeless, stylized Holsteins in this series of New England farmscapes. A one-word caption beneath each small, but powerful watercolor provides spare commentary that ranges from literal ("Barn," "Kittens") to poetic (the most widely-angled landscape is labeled "Xanadu"); in an afterword, Jackson frets about the decline of traditional dairy farming. Only farm buildings or the occasional tractor betray a human presence here. Though the black-and-white ruminants remain the same, other figures or features sometimes add an element of surprise by taking on unusual colors; the "Road" is dark red, for instance, and a barn seen through "Snow" is orange and lemon-yellow. The pictures in this artist's showcase are tableaus that tell no stories, but reflective viewers may catch a hint of the slow rhythms of a vanishing way of life. (Picture book. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618165995
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/22/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Woody Jackson lives in Addison County, Vermont—the land of milk and honey. He discovered art and cows at Middlebury College, from which he graduated in 1970. He created ties among the dairymen and -women there and has been creating bovine artwork ever since. He also received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and lived in New York City. Vermont is where his heart and art coexist. His cows grace the sides of Ben & Jerry's ice cream trucks as well as many art collections.

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