Twelve-year-old Reena and her younger brother Luke move with their parents from a big city to a small town in coastal Maine. Reena is expecting lobster and blueberries and ocean, but instead Reena’s parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig, a cat, a snake, a parrot, and one very ornery cow.
Reena and Luke’s relationship with Mrs. Falala and with the ornery cow affects them all in unexpected ways. Like my other books, there is both humor and seriousness in this story of unlikely friendships.
Three years ago, my daughter and son-in-law and their two children (our beloved grandchildren) made a sudden decision to move from the heart of Washington, D. C., where they had lived for a decade, to coastal Maine. “Why don’t you come, too?” they asked.
And so my husband and I, after living twenty years in Europe and after recently renovating a house in western New York state, where we thought we’d stay a while, thought, “Why not?” and so we, too, made the move to Maine. There we became enamored not only of all-things-Maine, but also, through our granddaughter’s work at a local farm, by cows.
Cows! They are as individual as people. You come, too. You’ll see.
Zora the cow was inspired by one particularly feisty cow named Zola, who, at her first fair, bolted from the ring much as Zora does in this story.
The cows in this story are Belted Galloways. If you want to see what they look like and to see teens at work on a farm and at fairs, click here.
The ‘hybrid’ format—part prose, part poetry, part typographical dance—evolved from attempts to capture the varying rhythms of twelve-year-old Reena as she makes her way in this new place. Sometimes she is direct, sometimes lyrical, sometimes playful, and the words on the page mimic that.