by Denys Cazet
Creston Books 2014
Age 8 to 12 206 pages
“It’s a perfect day for the First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival. The sun is shining in a warm autumn sky and the stage is set. Mr. and Mrs. Farmer are away on vacation, Minnie and Moo are dressed in their togas, Elvis has his bagpipe, the hyenas their jokes, the fox his magic tricks, the sheep a protest poem, and the cash box is stuffed with money from ticket sales. A perfect day. Wait a minute . . . Where is the cash box? Why are those coyotes on motorcycles? And who pushed those port-a-potties down the hill?”
“It was Indian summer on the farm. The air smelled of damp leaves and fallen apples.”
Minnie and Moo are on the stage looking over their First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival when Minnie begins worrying. Whenever Minnie thinks, she worries. First up on the stage are Zeke and Zack, formerly conjoined turkeys, to sing a turkey poem in two-part harmony. Wait, who is that with the greasy, slicked back hair pushing the turkeys off stage. It’s Elvis the rooster, with an ego bigger than the farm. He will steal the show all day long and when kicked off, again, he will go reluctantly with two words, “Geeze Louize.”
Meanwhile the coyotes are starting trouble, the weasels are conniving, and both want the cash box that is supposed to buy the farmer a new tractor. Throughout the day little catastrophes will occur. Moo will take it all in stride sure things will work out. Minnie worries. She wants to call off the festival. Now the hyenas have joined the coyotes and the weasels and that means just more trouble for Minnie to worry about . . . but then the cash box does go missing. It’s those hyenas, or those coyotes, or those weasels, or maybe all three. Minnie and Moo must get the money back, clean up the festival grounds, and get back to their animal homes before Mr. and Mrs. Farmer return home, just hours from now. Will they make it, or will all the hard work be for naught and Minnie right, they should have canceled the festival?
Minnie and Moo are quite a pair. They complement each other. One is of the mind that everything will work out fine, the other worries about everything. They are also two of the funniest cows in togas middle grade readers will ever meet. The cast of characters are right out of a slapstick movie. Most are the good guys, but then there are the bad guys who only want the moneybox. Then there is Elvis, a rooster performer that tries to steal and keep the stage as long as possible. Jokes are plenty, slapstick flies all over the stage, and sarcasm will have kids rolling on the floor. The animals have their eccentricities, all played for laughs.
The writing is very good. The author uses lots of dialogue, which speeds up the story. Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire is a fast, enjoyable read, with loads of black and white illustrations to help the reader visualize the story. It was never difficult to see in my mind’s eye what was happening, but the illustrations are a nice break from the fast-paced story.
This is the newest of several Minnie and Moo stories, including Minnie & Moo and the Seven Wonders of the World. This is not a series in the traditional sense. Book 1 does not lead to book 2 into book 3 . . ., instead each are separate stories that stand on their own. The one advantage to reading the first book is knowing the characters, and there are a lot of them, prior to starting Hooves of Fire. Marketed as a middle grade book, Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire could easily have been an early reader. The vocabulary is not difficult, nor is the plot hard to follow. Reluctant readers might even find Minnie and Moo an agreeable read.
I fell in love with these two adorable cows who only want to help their farmer get a needed tractor. The weasels are wonderful as villains with trickery, smart-aleck remarks, and a talent for smooth talking Moo into complacency—until Minnie begins to think and worry. Kids will find Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire fun, funny, and frivolous in a good way. This is the kind of story a teacher could read aloud, one chapter at a time, with students eager for the next chapter. If these two moos are not the stars of a third book, I will miss them.
MINNIE & MOO: HOOVES OF FIRE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Denys Cazet. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Creston Books, Berkeley, CA.
Learn more about Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire HERE.
Also by Denys Cazet