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Cows in the House    by Beverly Lewis & Chi Chung order for
Cows in the House
by Beverly Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 1998 (1998)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The theme of this tale is reflected in the (Philippians 4:11) quotation that precedes it, 'For I have learned to be content with whatever I have.' It's about a barefoot boy who lives in a 'misty mountain village of Thailand' with his parents and (every small boy's nightmare) five sisters who happen to quarrel all the time. They drive him crazy, so he paddles across the river to seek advice from wise Great-Grandfather.

This sage elder does not solve his problem for him, but rather helps the boy to discover it for himself, by taking into the house of stilts in his hill tribe village - first two cows who 'mooed and chewed ... romped and stomped', and then, after he seeks further advice, his two coddled cousins and a parade of musicians. He then suffers 'a long week of taunting and teasing, toppling and twisting, whining and whistling, swinging and swaying, dancing and playing' in that small home.

Of course you can guess the ending, in which the boy learns contentment by discovering from the 'Wise One' just how much more noisy and crowded his life could be. The illustrations are lovely and the Thai context intriguing in itself - something that can be discussed with small children along with the message of the story, which is an important one for all ages.

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