Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies

Spring Babies, the latest in Erica Silverman's ongoing series about Cowgirl Kate and her talking horse Cocoa, presents readers with an assortment of newborns on a ranch, some more traditional than others. In the first chapter it is the middle of the night when Kate wakes up a grumpy and sleep-deprived Cocoa. Together the pair patrols the ranch, Cocoa reluctantly. They hear a cow in distress and find Sweetie Pie, who is about to calve. After she delivers, Cocoa's attitudes towards night patrol changes and he suggests that they stay till morning watching over the newborn. Cocoa's fondness for the calf continues in Chapter Two. Here Cocoa mimics his "springy and zingy" friend and tests Kate's patience. A puppy arrives in Chapter Three, a present from Kate's friend, Jenny. Cocoa is out of sorts (he was expecting peppermint candy not a puppy) and the tiniest bit jealous of the attention the puppy receives. That changes when the puppy's friendliness towards the horse wins him over. Cocoa christens his new pal Peppermint. The final chapter, like the first, is set at nighttime. Cocoa charges from the barn, thinking he's seen a ghost. Kate investigates and discovers the ghost is really a barn owl and her babies. 

This book is the sixth in the series, the others being: Kate and Cocoa, Partners, School Days, Rain or Shine, and Horse in the House. In all the stories, Kate comes across as capable and responsible and is a likable role model. Cocoa has a more irrepressible nature. Like children everywhere, he wants what he wants and he wants it now, whether it's cowboy boots, playing hide-and-seek, or racing the wind. It's up to Kate to rein in (sorry!) his impulses and make sure he behaves.

Betsy Lewin is the illustrator for the series, and her loose, sketch-like work is a good match for the text. Her humorous drawings provide ample clues for the beginning reader to use to figure out what's happening on the page. Look once at the expression on Cocoa's face and you'll know if he's feeling happy, angry, disgruntled, or afraid.   

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