Chickenology / Milly Cow Gives Milk

Barbara Sandri and Francesco Giubbilini, illustrated by Camilla Pintonato
Princeton Architectural Press

This introductory book contains everything you ever wanted to know about chickens and probably a lot more too. There are five sections (listed on contents page but not mentioned thereafter) into which is packed an incredible amount of information presented in a highly readable manner with well-designed, stylishly illustrated spreads, every one of which has just the right amount of text so that at no time does the reader feel overwhelmed.

It starts with pages on identification; how to tell the difference between a hen and a rooster, courtship and mating, a spread on shape and size – astonishingly a Jersey Giant is almost the height of a three year old child. Communication is given a double spread; feathers have two and the Leghorn spread presents a dozen different varieties of the same breed, something I didn’t know.

Last in the first section is an exploration of the question ‘Can chickens fly?’

The next part begins with a look at the anatomy – internal and external and then comes a section comprising an egg-sploration of eggs.

My favourite section is ‘Chickens and Humans’ that encompasses some history, symbolism, folktales and more.

And last of all is a presentation of just some of the estimated 300 different breeds.

There’s likely something of interest to readers of all kinds here.

For a younger audience is:

Milly Cow Gives Milk
Deborah Chancellor and Julia Groves
Scallywag Press

Ask a group of young children where milk comes from and if my experience is anything to go by, some of them will name a supermarket. Now here’s a simple picture book (endorsed by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers), the first of a series, that goes right back to grass roots, to Farmer McBean’s farm to be precise.

There, in the company of a child, we meet Milly, one of a well cared for, ’happy herd’ and learn the basic facts about her daily life as she grazes on tasty grass in summer and is fed lots of hay to see her through the winter. Molly has to chew and chew what she eats to help its passage through her system, as well as drinking large amounts of fresh water, inevitably making lots of cow pats in the process.

Readers get right up close to her swollen udder as it bulges with milk and watch her being led to the milking parlour (which happens at sunrise and sundown). I was astonished to learn that Molly’s daily yield is around sixty pints and that along with the milk from the rest of the herd, is made ready for drinking and eventually once packed, it does reach the shelves of supermarkets and other outlets.

The final pages gives some further, basic facts about cows, milk and dairy farming. Julia Groves’ clean, bold illustrations and Deborah Chancellor’s straightforward account show that milk production involves a lot of hard work and for many people, it’s a vital item in their daily diet, unless like me they happen to be vegan.

For foundation stage and KS1 topic boxes.

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