Released by Scholastic in June, 2015, Cow is my most successful hardback so far in Australia. The illustrations are by the wonderful, now UK based Laura Wood.
Hey diddle diddle
You all know the riddle,
A cow jumps over the moon.
It happened all right,
On a crisp, cloudless night
On the second last Friday in June.
It’s a story about perseverance. It’s a story about training. It’s a story about cows smacking into meteorites and hot air balloons, and sand dunes.
It’s also a story about friends helping a cow in need.
And it’s a story about triumph.
Here is a video of me reading the book to my son Jack who has cerebral palsy.
Here is a blog I wrote, explaining the special significance of Cow, how I came to write it and how I was inspired by Jack.
The Cow Tripped Over the Moon is a story about perseverance. I love seeing people practice a skill, especially a difficult skill, and do it so many times that eventually it becomes easy. I see it in my older two kids, Polly, 8, and Harry, 5, with things like cartwheels, kicking a footy or learning to read. But I dedicated The Cow Jumped Over the Moon to my now four year old, Jack.
Jack has cerebral palsy, a condition that causes muscle spasticity in all four of his limbs. He also has cortical vision impairment, which means he only sees a couple of metres.
Everything that Jack tries to do requires perseverance. He cannot walk by himself, or crawl, or sit for very long. Every day he practises these things, and gets tiny improvements to keep us going. When Jack’s in his walking frame, we chant each movement to help him:‘shift weight, step, stretch and push’. At the moment we are aiming to do one hundred steps per day – three sessions, 20-40 steps at a time.
Every day, Jack enthusiastically asks ‘who’s coming today?’ and we answer ‘Belinda’, or ‘Ingrid’, or ‘Cathy’, or ‘Ali’ or ‘Ro’, for his life is charted by a parade of therapists and volunteers, all working towards the same distant moons – crawling, walking, comfortable unassisted sitting, fine motor control.
If he wants to pick up a piece of pasta at dinner, Jack might make ten attempts with his better left hand. Then, finally, he gets his pasta. We are having small successes with spoons, particularly with motion towards mouth. Obtaining a visual sight on the food, and what we call ‘digging’ is still a fair way off.
Jack adores books. His favourite at the moment is The Book With No Pictures and he always interrupts the first page with the question ‘who wrote this?’ He’s a long term Mo Willems devotee, and we often read him a book while demanding that he hold a sitting position, or a four point position. He still manages to enjoy the book.
The Cow Tripped Over the Moon was his favourite for a stretch, and he memorised the whole thing. Here’s an audio rendition of us doing it together.
He is such a beautiful and brave boy. He tries so hard. Sometimes, he attempts to do deals. We say ten more steps until a (held in arms) bounce on the trampoline. He says, ‘maybe just go have bounce now.’
When he’s tired and grumpy he’ll say that he doesn’t want to do any more, but he’ll usually have one more go. He likes to be ‘Roughy’ – Jarryd Roughead is his favourite Hawk – and he’ll shout ‘Gooooal’ as he inches an indoor soccer ball half a metre along.
Jack is only four, but he’s my inspiration. Jack is also the inspiration for The Cow Trips Over the Moon. I wanted to create a character who, like our Jack, never gives up.
‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ has long been my favourite nursery rhyme. The image of a cow jumping over the moon is so romantic, and the two things combined to make this book. My first attempt at writing the story was much longer. I wrote a manuscript for a middle grade reader called ‘The Cowolympics’. It featured a young cow competing at the bovine sports carnival of the year. The main event is, of course, the Open Age Moon Jump.
The story was meant to be an against the odds sports story, a bit like The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race. It was okay, but maybe just missed the mark. I read through my first draft and thought, ‘this would be better as just a series of moon attempts, with the skeleton of the original rhyme’. It didn’t take long to write the text. Maybe two days or so. Once I had the idea and the format the words came easily. My favourite line is ‘It seems a
moon clearance /Takes great perseverance.
My other favourite line is the dedication:
‘For my beautiful Jack. You will jump moons.’
“We also loved this silly little story about the cow attempting to jump the moon. Apparently, the cow didn’t get the jump first time. With the support of his friends, spoon, dish and dog, cow spends the night trying, but faces more than one aversion. It’s a fun twist on a very familiar nursery rhyme. And great illustrations.
” - Zanni Louise, My Little Suinshine House, 2/11/15
Nursery rhymes are often the currency of childhood – they’re what we repeat endlessly while driving, they’re the way we send a child off to sleep, they’re how we show visiting relatives just how brilliant our two-year-old can be: “listen to this!” we say and start our little one off on a well-loved rhyme.
Nursery rhymes are also, frequently, a little absurd – a cow who jumped over the moon? What on earth? How did that happen – and why?
This is the story of the many attempts that the cow in Hey Diddle Diddle made before she finally managed to get over the moon. The underlying theme is clear: it’s worth persevering and enduring and working to achieve a dream, even if it looks somewhat impetuous at first.
The thing about perseverance is that it’s so often presented as a bit of a drag. Here though, the offbeat cow (who is just plain funny to watch thanks to brilliant illustrations) has a necessary moment of despair but, on the whole, each attempt is a heck of a lot of fun.
There’s a page full of pre-moon-attempt training. Then she trips, she overshoots, she runs into a hot air balloon, she even opts out once!
But through it all she remains determined – and a little bit crazy.
The cow has a terrific support crew too – the dog, the cat and the fiddle, and the dish and the spoon all do their part. Everyone needs a support crew like this!
They laugh with and at the cow, they sing encouraging songs, they take care of her immediate needs, they offer encouraging words, they bind up her wounds of the emotional and physical kind, and the whole barnyard celebrates when she finally gets over the moon.
Like all good nursery rhymes, this one is fun to say aloud and it’s fun to read. Our Ivy (who is two) is loving it but she was a little worried when we came to Moon Attempt 4: “Oh no, those chickens are awake, it’s almost morning.” (She’s a farm girl at heart.) This is the page:
But the thing I like most about this book is that it lays out a back story. And knowing that there is always a back story is right up there with the most important intellectual gifts we can give to a child.
Knowing there’s a back story means that jealousy can sometimes be abated. It’s the reason we treat each other with gentleness and kindness.
Knowing there’s a back story helps us to stop taking civil rights or women’s rights for granted. It means that it’s ok for us to keep working through our own back stories – whether we’re jumping moons, learning to walk, passing exams, applying for jobs, teaching a child to sleep through the night, or learning to talk.
And finally, truly, don’t miss reading these two essays by The Cow’s creator Tony Wilson. Both are beautiful, they’ll stick in your mind and you’ll be better for having read them - just click the images:
“The cat plays second fiddle in Tony Wilson and Laura Wood’s The Cow Tripped Over the Moon (Scholastic, $24.99), a charming take on the nursery rhyme. “Hey diddle diddle,’’ it starts, “You all know the riddle.’’ But what we don’t know is that the bovine space traveller did not clear the moon at her first attempt. This book takes us behind the scenes of her heroic mission: the training, the ground team (Cat, Dog, Dish, Spoon), the heartbreak of the failed launches, the ultimate triumph. There’s gritty realism (The little dog laughed / He laughed ’til he barfed”) and a sense of history. Somewhere a Soviet version is floating in infinity.” - Stephen Romei, The Australian, 15/8/15
You all know the story of the Cow who jumped over the moon. But did she make it on the first attempt? Or were there many, many tries before the famous rhyme. This is a fantastic read aloud, told in terrific rhyme and filled with slapstick humour. We LOVE it.
Story Mama Quick Review:
Laugh out loud funny + Great rhyme makes this our new read loud favourite. Master 5 says “Again, please” which is high praise indeed. Great illustrations too. We especially like the perseverance message.
Story Mama Rating:
Fun to read aloud: 0.9/1
Pretty to look at 0.9/1
Demands to be read again: 1/1
Positive Message or Heartstring factor: 0.6 /1
” - Story Mama, 8/8/15
The Cow Tripped Over the Moonby Tony Wilson and Laura Wood is a gorgeous play on the popular nursery Hey Diddle Diddle. The story is all about what happened leading up to the Cow jumping over the moon.
Cow's goal is to jump over the moon. It seems almost impossible and cow makes many failed attempts. With the help and support from her friends, Dog, Cat, Dish and Spoon, Cow never gives up.
She continues to attempt the challenge, getting a little closer each time and we all know how the rhyme ends, with cow jumping over the moon.
It seems a moon clearance
Takes great perseverance
Achieving your goals can seem impossible at times but through hard work, a little perseverance and of course, support from your friends, you never know what you might achieve, like jumping over the moon. The Cow Tripped Over the Moon is a a fabulously funny and clever story with a wonderful message about never giving up on your dreams.
Laura Wood's illustrations are hilarious and beautifully match the wonderful rhyming story. The endpapers are a series of patterns that represent a farm and they are just lovely.
This picture book opens up a world of possibilities for creative writing ideas for kids. They could choose their favourite nursery rhyme and write a story about what happened in the lead up to it, like The Cow Tripped Over the Moon. Or they could write about what happens after the nursery rhyme.
- See more at: http://honeybeebooksblog.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/review-the-cow-tripped-over-the-moon.html#sthash.yJPXvxqW.dpuf
” - Melissa, Honey Bee Books, 6/8/15
“A hilarious version of the old nursery rhyme, ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’, with a most persistent, hard-working cow and his ever-so supportive friends. ‘The Cow Tripped Over the Moon’ takes us back on the journey of how the cow ultimately succeeded in jumping over the moon. With exuberant rhyme and comical, distinct illustrations, it takes this hapless cow seven moon attempts before he finally conquers this mighty challenge. From tripping over, to hitting a hot air balloon, slow run-ups, riding meteorites and blazing bottoms, Cow hits an all-time low. But the encouragement of his dog, cat, dish and spoon mates sparks the determination in this fiesty creature, and the rhyme ends happily ever after.
Adorably whimsical and witty with clever plays on the classic rhyme, ‘The Cow Tripped Over the Moon’ is perfect for a snuggle and a giggle before a preschooler’s bedtime.” - Romi Sharp, Boomerang Books blog, 14/7/15
This hilarious picture book re-imagining of the old rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle will have kids and adults laughing out loud. We all know the rhyme, right? –
“But what they don’t say in the songs from that day is the cow didn’t jump it first time It seems a moon clearance takes great perseverance, so back to the scene of the rhyme…”
Seven hilarious failed attempts are then recorded before the eighth and successful attempt fulfils the nursery rhyme, and along the way Cow has her support team (dog, cat, dish, spoon) cheering her along. Invaluable life lessons about friendship and perseverance are sneakily hidden in a fun filled narrative that will have everyone coming back for more.
Great fun rhyming text, at times playfully irreverent (the dog laughed till he barfed) combined with atypical nursery style illustrations more in the style of Reg Mombassa and his Mambo art in heritage federation colours (giving it a paradoxical age-old yet modern feel) widens the scope of readership appeal.
Highly recommended” - Debra Tidball, Reading Time, 10/7/15
In the well-known nursery rhyme, it is all so simple, the cat played the fiddle and the cow jumped over the moon. Here, however, we see the true story of the determined cow and her multiple attempts to make that famous mighty leap for “it seems a moon clearance takes great perseverance”. After some rigorous training supported by her friends, during the hours of one moonlit night we see the various disastrous failed attempts until the last triumphant effort as the sun rises.
The witty rhyming text in the original metre is enlivened by vignettes of all involved in the seemingly impossible task, while the timed lift-off-scenes throughout the night are spread across double pages to give scope for each flight-path. Text and illustrations work harmoniously in true picture book fashion to enrich, enliven and elaborate on the original simple tale, while applauding the virtues of perseverance and the need for helpful friends. Great fun for pre-schoolers to listen too – and would make a hilarious lower-primary class Assembly item.
” - Chloe Mauger, Reading Time, 6/7/15
“Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle - remember that cow that jumped over the moon? Well new reports just at hand is that she didn't actually make it the first time!
'The cow tripped over the moon' by Tony Wilson and Laura Wood is a surprising eye-witness report of the actual events that happened that night. Join the cow, Rover the dog, the cat, the dish and the spoon as they take us through the numerous attempts at bovine calisthenics. A story about never giving up and friends that will see you through the tough times.
This rhyming book is a lot of fun - laugh out loud at the reimagining of a time-old favourite nursery rhyme.
http://www.thebookworm.com.au/2015/07/the-cow-tripped-over-moon.html” - Meredith O'Connor, The Book Worm, 12/7/15
“I enjoyed this story. Cow is large, and the moon is a long way away. How many attempts will it take before cow is able actually to jump over the moon? She keeps falling over something at each attempt. The verse is delightful—light, but flows well, and I think that this book will be a favourite of children from 3-6 years. They will also learn some interesting words, and what each means as the story is read to them time and again. Excellent book.” - Janet Croft, Janet Croft Book Reviews.
“Tony Wilson’s hilarious take on the classic nursery rhyme ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is a wonderful story about perseverance and the importance of supportive friends. Cow’s friends are alongside her every step of the way and are there to celebrate her success. Tying in with the original song, the dish runs off with the spoon.
Laura Wood’s illustrations are priceless and coupled with Tony’s rhymes; you have an unputdownable picture book.
RATING: 8/10” - The Scribbler, 29/5/15
“We all know the rhyme:
Hey diddle diddleThe cat and the fiddleThe cow jumped over the moon.The little dog laughed to see such funAnd the dish ran away with the spoon. What we didn't know about, until now, was the incredible story behind this event! Our brave Cow didn't just simply 'jump the moon'. Oh no! This was an epic tale of training and perseverance …
This is an absolutely hilarious picture book. The story is inventive, very clever and beautifully told. The illustrations are gorgeous, delightfully conveying the struggles of Cow and the valiant efforts of Cat, Fiddle, Dog, Dish and Spoon to support their friend.
From the early training days (Cow lifting weights, doing push-ups, being pushed up in sit-ups, and chasing a doughnut on a treadmill) right through all EIGHT moon-jump attempts, we are there with Cow, cheering her on. And despite all the obstacles (tripping over Dog, hitting a hot air balloon, totally losing her mojo, jumping the sun — ouch!), her friends never stop believing in her, and Cow keeps persevering.
Yes, these are valuable life lessons for anyone, child or adult, but it's not often that we get to learn them in such a fun format. I loved this book and so did my daughter. It's hard to pick which one of us will be reading it more!
Title: The Cow Tripped Over the Moon
Author: Tony Wilson
Illustrator: Laura Wood
Publisher: Scholastic Press, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: June 2015
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book” - Anouska Jones, Kids Book Review, 22/6/15
We all know that travelling to the moon is a major undertaking; the first astronauts did a huge amount of preparation before taking off. We also know the classic nursery rhyme about the cow jumping over the moon. This amusing picture book from Tony Wilson and Laura Wood offers a new perspective on the cow’s journey. She makes several unsuccessful attempts (as happens in real life) and is hugely discouraged, but with lots of support she finally makes it on ‘Moon Attempt 8’. Her perseverance and achievement are acknowledged when her friends, the cat with the fiddle, the little dog, the dish and the spoon, compose the rhyme dedicated to her. This is an imaginative extension of the original nursery rhyme, written in easy-to-read, hilarious verse and supported by colourful, full-page illustrations. Young children, even at a pre-reading age, will love hearing this well-written verse read aloud and delight in its humour. This book will be requested over and over and will even be enjoyed by emerging readers. It is recommended for under-fives.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She now provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath
” - Margaret Hamilton, Books and Publishing Magazine 2/4/15
“Get your hands on ‘The Cow Tripped Over The Moon’ written by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood. It’s a wonderful retelling of the classic nursery rhyme and it’s been a favourite this week in our house.
As you know in the nursery rhyme, the cow does jump over the moon but do you know how long it took and how much encouragement it took? Well, this book details all the different moon attempts in a very funny manner.
There are seven amusing moon attempts written in a rhyming verse that’s wonderful to read aloud. The illustrations are equally as funny. It will have you and your child in stitches.
Here’s an excerpt of one unsuccessful attempt.
“Moon Attempt 5: 1:15am
Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow tripped over the moon
The little dog laughed
He laughed till he barfed
When the cow landed
In a sand dune.”
http://themummyproject.com/the-cow-tripped-over-the-moon-book-review/” - The Mummy Project, 23/6/16
It’s a fun twist on a very familiar nursery rhyme. And great illustrations.