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Author: Erica Silverman

Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

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Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books,

Material: hard cover

Summary: When Cocoa sees Cowgirl Kate's parents drive off, he came over from the barn to explore the house. He's sad when he discovers there is no hay, and he's confused about the idea of a "bedroom" instead of a stall. Still, he likes the house better than the barn and decides he's going to move in. Cowgirl Kate is nervous about the idea, and hopes that when she shows Cocoa why she loves the barn that he'll want to stay there. Will it work? This is the fifth book in this easy reader chapter book series about a girl and her horse.

Type of Reading: family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read, easy reader

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 6; read yourself: 6 to 9

Interest Level: 4 to 8

Reading Level: 1.3

Age of Child: Read by a 7-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: It took some nudging to get my daughter to read this. Given her love of horses, I thought this would be an instant connection. She thumbed through the book and looked at the pictures for a while before she finally settled in to read. She chuckled a few times, but ultimately decided this was just "Okay."

Adult Reader Reaction: Once you get past the idea of a horse wandering around the house, the story settles in nicely. The author does a nice job of opening kids' eyes to perception (Cocoa thinks the tub is a trough), as well as countering the "grass is always greener" mentality. Everything moves forward with conversation, which keeps the sentences short and also adds repetition - some of it wearing after awhile. The pages are well balanced and the text-to-image ratio shifts effectively to keep readers moving along.

Pros: This is story about friendship that can be enjoyed by girls and boys alike ... whether they live in the country or are city folk!

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The books in this series are cute and the stories are clever, but once your child becomes a confident reader, they will want stories with more meat.


Educational Themes: Cocoa's perception of things in the house can be a model for exploring other creature's "perceptions" of things. For example, if a cow came in the house, what would they think of "x," where X could be a green rug or a toybox, etc. You could also talk about a time when you (or your child) wished you lived somewhere else and the feeling of sometimes what "they" have seems nicer.

Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2009-2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - easy reader series, animal characters, friendship

Date(s) Reviewed: May 2010

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