116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
After the hubbub of the holidays, the new year is a great time for quiet reflection and looking ahead with hope and aspirations. One new children’s book can help with that, and could serve as a new family read aloud tradition.
“A Moo Cow Came Traveling,” (2021, Flyway Books, ages 10 and up, $15.95), written by Ireland author, Mark Mulholland, and illustrated by Iowa’s own, Dorothia Rohner, is a charming, philosophical short story alongside Rohner’s truly magical illustrations. No one captures the sparkle of moondust (and traveling cows) like Rohner can. The publisher, Flyway Books, is proud to announce this book as its first released title. For over 20 years, Flyway has been a literary journal out of Ames (Iowa State University), publishing short literary works by domestic and international authors. When the unusual and delightful manuscript by Mulholland arrived in March 2020, it sparked the editors who envisioned it as a middle grade reader and, thus, the first book from Flyway was born. They chose wisely with Rohner as its illustrator.
The storyteller’s voice is undeniably an Irish brogue, as rich and salty as the tale itself of a traveling moo cow from Intergallactica who sits for tea with a teacher of young children and a pub owner, musing and advising earthlings’ ways of being in encouragement of kindness and openheartedness.
I am lucky enough to have a dear friend from Ireland and her sweet voice in my ear allows me to hear the musical words of this philosophical tale. However, if you are not so lucky, Mulholland’s authorial voice can help you imagine it, too. If your family is searching for meaningful traditions, consider this as a family read aloud story. You may have to put on your Irish acting voice, but it will be well worth it.
From first titles to first-time authors, Iowa native, Norene Paulson, is enjoying the release of her first two picture books, “Benny’s True Colors,” (2020, Imprint, ages 3-6, $18.99) and, “What’s Silly Hair Day with No Hair,” (2021, Albert Whitman, ages 4 to 7, $16.99).
In “Benny’s True Colors,” sweetly illustrated by Anne Passchier, Benny is a young bat who was obviously born a bat, but … on the inside, he doesn’t FEEL like a bat. In fact, on the inside, Benny KNOWS he is truly a butterfly! With a supportive mom and many butterfly friends, Benny is able to transform into who he truly is, a beautiful butterfly.
This loving picture book is written and illustrated for the young, yet it deals with a topic that could be the most important life lesson for us all: self-acceptance. Kids and adults alike will feel the gentle beauty of this story, thereby cheering for Benny and, hopefully, for themselves and their inner journeys.
In “What’s Silly Hair Day with No Hair,” the main character, Bea, has Alopecia, an autoimmune condition which attacks one’s hair follicles causing all hair to fall out. Alopecia can develop at any age, but for most, it begins during childhood or the teenage years.
When Silly Spirit Week arrives at Bea’s school, it’s all great fun until one of the days is Silly Hair Day. What is someone with no hair supposed to do? Bea has a fretful week, but with her best friend Shaleah’s help, the two find a happy solution.
Nicely illustrated by Camila Carrossine, this book is a helper for any child accepting their Alopecia condition, as well as those who know someone with the condition to become more empathetic and understanding of their inherent struggles with it.
Paulson’s book was recently celebrated by the Children’s Alopecia Project organization, which has the mission statement: “To help any child in need who is living with hair loss due to all forms of Alopecia. We change the emphasis from growing hair to growing confidence.” Paulson’s important book could certainly aid in that as well.
Wendy Henrichs is a children's author living in Iowa City.