When I think back to my childhood, it’s like a slowmo rerun of the ‘Wonder Years’; barefoot brats pedalling through suburbia, spokey dokes clacking and Joe Cocker wailing in the background. Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m leafing through a Judy Blume while Roxette’s ‘Dressed for Success’ reverberates from my boombox. Then… High school. Urgh. Lolling about in a cheesecloth blouse, listening to The Doors in a fog of incense. In the late 90s, I remember sitting in an all you can eat Pizza Hut earnestly telling my high school crush that I was “really into Simon and Garfunkel”. “Cool,” he said. “Which album?” To which I replied, “The Definitive”. *Cringe*.
You see, the thing about music is that it has tentacles that reach up and deftly rewire your brain, unearthing memories, firing ideas and shaping your view on the world. Muse-ic. It’s inspiring. So I was excited to get my hands on Nadia Shireen’s ‘The Cow Who Fell To Earth’, which is just a teeny bit influenced by none other than The Thin White Duke – David Bowie.
In a nod to ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’, one night, the sheep are awoken by a mysterious falling star. BOOM! It’s a cute little cow in a space suit and jetpack. The sheep are flummoxed, especially as the little cow tries to tell her story… “woo wooo-wooo”. But they can’t understand a single word.
“Let’s call it Dave,” agreed the sheep.
Dave could see she had a problem.
The kindly animals all soon work out that they’re in the presence of a MOON-COW and set to work trying to help Dave get back home. Not only is ‘The Cow Who Fell to Earth’ vibrantly illustrated, it’s charming, witty and ever so gently touches on inclusion. Dave might’ve turned up unexpectedly, and the other animals mightn’t understand a word she says, but that doesn’t stop them from offering her a blankie and a cup of tea. Now, isn’t that just the sort of Earth we all want our kids to know?
Nadia’s work has very quickly put her on the literary map, with a string of awards and nominations. But I was MOST impressed by the fact she used to write for Smash Hits (sincerely thank you Smash Hits for the Jason Priestley / 90210 posters), and today attributes music as a great source of inspiration in her work. I can’t think of anything that isn’t improved by music. Doing the dishes? You betcha. The shower? Almost certainly. Picture books? If it means more stories like this one, then PLEASE keep them coming!
More by Nadia Shireen: The Bumblebear