Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dadblamed Union Army Cow


Fletcher, Susan. 2007. Dadblamed Union Army Cow. Illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root.

Let me just say right now that I loved, loved, loved Dadblamed Union Army Cow. What did I love? I loved the fact that it was based on a true story as the author's note clearly states:

This book is based on a true story about a cow that marched with the Union Army during the Civil War. I heard the tale from Linda Thompson, media specialist at Zellerbach Elementary School in Camas, Washington. Linda first learned about the Union Army cow from her grandfather's cousin, Mrs. H.F. Rethers, the daughter of Captain Jesse M. Lee, the captain of the regiment to which the cow was attached.

I have taken liberties with history, as fiction writers are wont to do. However, this much is corroborated by newspaper clippings, photographs, and Mrs. Rethers: From 1862 to 1865, a "celebrated cow" traveled with the Fifty-Ninth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, giving milk to the soldiers. She was in the Vicksburg and Atlanta campaigns; she traveled through the Carolinas and Virginia to Washington City, where she passed in review with the army. She is said to have traveled many hundreds of miles and witnessed a hundred engagements and skirmishes. The milk may well have saved the soldiers' lives, as the supply train couldn't keep up with them and, as Mrs. Rethers has written, "hardtack and wormy bacon weren't very nourishing." Captain Lee mustered out at six feet two inches, weighing 110 pounds.

After the war, the cow was written up in the Greencastle, Indiana, newspaper. She spend her days contentedly in the pasture of Professor George Lee (Captain Jesse Lee's brother) until she died many years later.


I also loved the narration. I loved the rhythm and repetition of it. The recurring phrase being, "Dadblamed cow said, Moo." (Who isn't going to want to join in and say Moo if you're reading this aloud???)

I loved the cow's personality. My father owns cows. My grandfather owned cows. If there is one thing I know--it is that cows have personalities all their own. Each cow has her own quirks. Each one is "special" if you will. I loved this "dadblamed cow."

And I loved the illustrations. Loved them. They were so perfect for this book.

This book has everything a good picture book should, and I highly recommend it.

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