In the genre of children's picture books written about pets, Cowpie Corgi: A Dogs Tale stands out because of its humor and commitment to the story.
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I'll confess that I approach these types of books with more than a little hesitation. I've read more than my share of really bad pet books. These books are usually thinly disguised love letters to the author's canine companions. They lack the distance from the animal to be able to objectively judge whether the book and its story can hold up to the scrutiny of anyone who does not know the animal.
Randi Yocum overcomes this challenge by writing a book filled with charm and containing a consistent, well-structured plot. She introduces us to an admittedly very cute corgi named Scout who has gotten to be a bit smelly through his travels around the farm. Mom tells him he needs a bath to get that good Corgi smell back again.
Scout, hears the word bath and immediately looks for a way to escape. He begins asking all the farm animals what he can do to get that Corgi smell back againpreferably in a way that doesn't involve a tub. Water itself, he didn't mind as long as it involved swimming in the creek or pond. But they'd hit a dry spell and there was no water to swim in. So he asked a horse, a chicken, and a pig what to do. They all recommended such things as rolling in dust or mud, but all that did was get him to smell like them.
So then he went to Mrs. Cow and his too-trusting Corgi nature got the best of him. Mrs. Cow remembered when Scout snipped at her heels as he tried to herd her home one day. So she used his question to get her revengemaking the suggesting that led to the book's title, Cowpie Corgi.
Overall, the book is very sweet and filled with the repetition that can make a children's book so successful. There is the patter of questions that draw young readers in and the charming silliness of a dog who will do anything to avoid a bath.
Even my son, who at 10 usually eschews picture books unless his mother specifically asks him to read it and give her a reaction, let out a loud "ewwwwww" when it got to the cowpie section and laughed his way through the rest of the book.
Sam Yocum II is responsible for the book's illustrations, full-color photographs that show Scout talking to all the different animals as well as him swimming, rolling in mud, and getting covered with cowpies. The photos are wonderfully bright and manage to capture perfect expressions on all of the animal's faces.
The book ends with a brief explanation of what Pembroke Welsh Corgis are along with a short paragraph sharing "The Corgi Legend."
Cowpie Corgi is Randi Yocum's first book and the Texas rancher writes that it is based on a true event. Thankfully, she added enough fictionalized elements to make the book attractive to all young readers, regardless of whether they themselves have met Scout.