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Wilhelmina Goes Wandering Hardcover – March 17, 2014
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From the Author
When I first read the newspaper accounts in 2011 of a runaway cow hanging out and traveling for five months with a herd of deer here in Connecticut, I knew there was a special story wanting to be "retold." I had a hunch the tale of a lumbering 800-pound Black Angus, accepted by a herd of sleek long-limbed deer--repeatedly outsmarting the animal control folks trying to capture her--could be a sweet and fun children's book. In my reimagined story, the deer teach Wilhelmina that being kindred free spirits outweighs their differences in appearance and size. After she is eventually captured by animal experts, and relocated to a farm in Oxford, Connecticut, our bovine heroine discovers that feeling accepted and loved by her new farmer friend Betty has not only tamed her wanderlust, but also provided her with the true home she didn't have before.
About the Author
John's love of the old farms, stone walls, and beautiful country roads in the "boondocks" of eastern Connecticut are what made Wilhelmina's story jump off the newspaper page and grab his interest. As a longtime journalist, he knew this was a special story waiting to be re-told. John built his journalism career over twenty-two years in Washington, D.C., after earning a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1986. Back home in Connecticut, he tends a large vegetable garden in a community garden located in the backyard of Samuel Huntington, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. A student of American history, the setting feeds John's body and soul as he revels in the history of the place. It also fuels his nickname of "Farmer John."
Although Wilhelmina Goes Wandering is his first children's book, John is the author of several other books that reflect his diverse interests. His award-winning Victory Deferred chronicles how the AIDS epidemic in America transformed lives and institutions. On a lighter note, Hot Stuff: A Brief History of Disco/Dance Music is a serious look at a fun subject. Most of the time John focuses on health, medicine, politics, and the social sciences as a regular contributor to TheAtlantic, Huffington Post, and others. His literary agent is now shopping around the proposal for John's next nonfiction book, focused on resilience, called Sacred Band.
Top customer reviews
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The story is good, and interesting (to everyone reading).
The illutrations are quite lifelike!
This is why my daughter particularly loves this book!
I kept my first copy, but I will buy another and donate to the local library shortly!
Wilhelmina the cow, bored by the confines of her pasture, literally jumps the fence into a world of discovery. Shadowed by Phineas the Cat on almost every page, she finds herself among new friends in often strange surroundings. Of course, there are those who find Wilhelmina’s wandering unacceptable and work to bring her back to her ‘proper’ place. Yet, even back in the barnyard, Wilhelmina’s adventure has forever changed her view of herself and those around her.
Katie Runde’s spirited illustrations bring the story into focus and invite the reader to enter into Wilhelmina’s world. They evoke beautifully the New England countryside with its constantly changing seasons and colors.
This is a book to be read to and with children. The younger ones will be captivated by the pictures and story, while older ones may find themselves identifying with a wandering cow who finds love and acceptance in the most unexpected places.
Andriote, the wide-ranging journalist and author whose non-fiction works include an examination of the impact of HIV/AIDS on American homosexuals as well as a history of disco dancing, takes a New England news item and projects it onto the big screen of universality. Indeed, this story belongs on the movie big screen inspiring all us Wilhelminas that want to be valued for simply being one of G-d’s creatures and not for what we contribute to the false god of “The Economy.”
Note how Andriote gets the point across succinctly and effectively: “From her calfhood until this moment, no one seemed to care that inside Wilhelmina was a free spirit, born to roam. Her humans only cared that she produced milk for their cereal.”
Those, like myself, that know John will see in “Wilhelmina” elements of his personal journey including the comfort of being accepted as a gay man in his “Other Connecticut” hometown after being away 30 years as well as the discomfort of the city fathers and newspaper not properly valuing his talent or sharing his boldness and enthusiasm. Yes, we’ve come a long way but change remains fraught with difficulties.
Like most of us, Wilhelmina is looking for love, acceptance, and adventure and what’s needed to get her on the road to realizing those things is a little push. That push comes from a comment made by a deer. It’s a nice accident of the English language that the comment made by the deer makes her dear to Wilhelmina.
The fact that the heroes of this story are actually heroines (as in female) shouldn’t escape us. The female personality is the one that more often thinks of higher things while the male is out trying to conquer the world, destroy cultures he finds unacceptable, or, increasingly since the 1960s, simply throwing responsibility over the shoulder. Kudos to Andriote for recognizing this religious truth and, ladies, rejoice in being G-d’s final act of creation.
Connecticut-born artist Katie Runde’s illustrations are excellent. One might notice that Phineas the cat is drawn in every frame yet is acknowledged in the text only once and doesn’t exchange words with Wilhelmina. Perhaps we should view Phineas as the cow’s guardian angel (how’s that for reversing the historic role of the black cat?).
The only confusion I met is when Animal Control Office George is speaking about “Waldo.” It would lessen confusion if “Waldo” and “him” had been written with quotation marks. Without the marks, one is liable to think that a new character is being introduced.
Hopefully, that problem will be eliminated in the French translation (due out soon) and future print runs. In the meantime, introduce your children to this animal heroine (www.runawaycowbook.com) that could make her author and an enterprising movie studio millions (Hollywood and the nation is ready for a heroic cow) and watch her find peace through what we all know to be true – home is where the heart is.
The story, along with the illustrations, bring the story to life. The toddlers will love looking at this book and retelling the story many times. I recommend this book to parents, preschool teachers and librarians as a "ReadTo Me".
After reading this, I am purchasing this book and donating it to my library for storytime.