Title: Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire
Author and Illustrator: Denys Cazet
Publisher: Creston Books
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
Minnie & Moo, the bovine stars of numerous picture books, finally return to the 9 to 11 year-old market; over ten years after their first chapter book, Seven Wonders of the World, was published by Atheneum.
In Hooves of Fire, Minnie and Moo organize and judge the First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival on the farm. The book starts with a letter to the reader from Minnie, which introduces the important characters, sets up the story, and delivers one of the funniest lines in the book; “That idea is dumber than licking and electrical socket”.
While I would agree with the starred Kirkus review that describes Minnie and Moo as the funniest cows on the early – reading circuit, I felt that some of the humour missed the mark. A lot of it was too mature (wordplay on popular culture references that are no longer popular) and inappropriate for the target audience (sexual chicken references for example). But there was a lot of base humour as well, including the inclusion of port-a-potty races, manure being mistaken for “Ma knew her” and an abundance of words that rhyme with butt.
The poems, songs, and jokes performed by the animals are quite clever and kept me reading through sixteen chapters of barnyard banter and minor disasters. Despite layers of foreshadowing, it isn’t until three quarters of the way through the book that the money box finally goes missing. This is followed by two chapters of high energy chase which includes a satisfying turn of events when Elvis, the obnoxious rooster, helps Minnie, Moo, and the Boarzinni brothers capture the guilty fox. (No need for a spoiler alert as there really isn’t much mystery here).
The book itself is beautifully designed- the kind that gives you faith in the perseverance of print books in a world of digital – with wonderful, detailed pencil sketches. There is a curriculum guide designed for ages 9-11 which will appeal greatly to teachers looking to bring Minnie & Moo’s antics into the classroom.