Petal the Angry Cow by Maureen Fergus, illus. Olga Demidova

Review by Gabrielle Tselos

Tundra Books, Jan. 11th, 2022

48 pages, Hardcover, $17.99 Cad, ISBN: 9780735264687

Ages 4-8 years

Picture Book

“Sometimes she used her Time-Outs to consider what she might have done differently, Mostly, though, she plotted revenge.”

Keeping your temper under control while upset can be difficult, but it is very important in order to be an understanding friend. When we’re young, we’re still learning how to handle all the little things that might go wrong. And just like many of us, Petal the Cow also struggles with her temper. 

Petal The Angry Cow is the story about a cow who tries to be a good friend, but often loses her temper when she is upset. When the farmer proposes a trip to the water park, Petal loses her chance to come along when she has a temper tantrum. She storms off and finds a swan who has also lashed out, but at other animals during a go-fish tournament. Petal gives the swan advice about how to act like a good friend. From this, Petal learns that she must change her ways and take her own advice in order to be a friend that people want to spend time with.

I found both the message of this story—how to control one’s temper—as well as its storyline very intriguing and well thought out. I enjoyed the way Petal discovers she must take her own advice. I think it is key for young readers to see not only what Petal does incorrectly, but also what the correct thing to do is. As Petal learns what is right, she uses her time-outs to think about what she could have done better.

I was drawn in by the beautiful, bright, and emotion-filled illustrations by Demidova. You can see both the swan’s and Petal’s tempers coming through on the page through the intense red background. Red is typically seen as an angry colour, and children can use the colour on the page to help better understand the strong and upset feelings that Petal and the swan are experiencing during their temper tantrums. The drawings also have a watercolour feel with soft edges, creating an appealing contrast with the bold colours.

This book does a fantastic job of showing how to be a good friend, control one’s temper, and reflect if your temper does get out of hand. Petal helps young readers understand the big emotions they’re experiencing, and that many other people (and animals) also get upset, but that it is how you handle those emotions that are most important. If you’re hoping to educate your young one(s) about controlling temper—and why it’s important—in an engaging, fun way this is the book to get your hooves on!

Gabrielle Tselos is a UBC student, from Saint Paul, Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, and baking delicious treats for her friends and family.

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