The Day the Cow Sneezed
I landed in San Francisco with a tickle in my throat, and by the end of my trip I lost my voice. A nasty cold wasn’t the only souvenir I came home with; I have plenty of books to share over the next couple of weeks. Probably the best one to share considering the condition I’m in is The Day the Cow Sneezed. Keep reading…
Written and illustrated by James Flora, The Day the Cow Sneezed is a lesson in being careless. The story is about a boy name Fletcher who leaves his cow Floss standing too long in cold water while he went off chasing a rabbit. Poor Floss gets sick and sneezes, which sparks a chain of events that disrupts an entire town. The story is too long-winded for my taste, very wordy with an endless chain of events that didn’t tickle my funny bone.
First printed in 1957, the art is a retro stylization of the times. The cover was very eye-catching, with bold patterned text against a creamy white background. The art is very attractive; Flora’s use of geometric shapes seems to create patterns. Working mostly in tempera, Flora creates flat-looking illustrations with wacky characters. Not all the pages are in colour – every other page is done in black and white. Pages with colour are limited to black, green and red, but somehow he is still able to make a bold statement.
I wonder how many people on the flight home got sick because I sneezed (ok, maybe more than once on a four-hour flight, along with some coughing)? I apologize to all those who are currently suffering but read the book, it might make you feel better.
The Day the Cow Sneezed, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator James Flora
(January 25th, 1914 to July 9th, 1998)
James Flora is best known for his outrageous jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records and RCA Victor during the 1940s and 50s. Flora was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio on January 25, 1914. He attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he met his wife Jane, also an artist. Upon graduation he worked as an assistant to a muralist and as a freelance illustrator.
Barred from the military due to a lung condition, Flora went to work for Columbia Records. Recognized for his artistic talents, Flora was soon promoted to art director. He quickly moved up the ranks to the position of advertising manager, then promoted once more to sales promotion manager for Columbia Records. The higher up he climbed, the less art he did. Feeling ill-suited for bureaucracy and frustrated with endless meetings and paperwork, Flora resigned. He spent the rest of his career thriving as a freelance illustrator, creating pieces for album covers, magazines, and children’s books.
James Flora passed away on July 9, 1998, of stomach cancer. His family has done a wonderful job of archiving his work and inspiring generations to come by making it accessible. To see more of James Flora’s collection of work and learn more about the illustrator, check out www.jimflora.com
Publisher Enchanted Lion Books; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)