Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Millie waits for the mail

Millie waits for the mail by Alexander Steffensmeier
Walker, 2007.

Millie the cow loves scaring the mailman, so she hides in a wide variety of places to wait for him to come down the lane on his bicycle. Problem is, she's so good at scaring him that everything the farmer gets delivered is broken. What are the farmer and the mailman going to do?

Originally published in Germany, Millie waits for the mail is a hilarious picture book by premise alone (a cow scaring the mailman? Aren't these books usually about dogs doing that?). The illustrations are colourful and full of fun details, like the chickens partaking in a wide variety of activities in the background, from catching a lift on the tractor with their coffee to wandering about porting a sling and a neck brace. Steffensmeier is very good at conveying motion and sound when Millie scares the life out of the mailman, and I can almost hear a frantic, bellowed "mmooooOOOOOOOOooo!!" coming out of the page.

Despite the imagined mooing, Millie is actually very doglike - a montage of her hiding places include her in a dog's play pose with her hind end in the air, and when she is taken aback her tail bristles and she strongly resembles a pointer in mid-hunt. Her visible emotions run the gamut from impatience to disappointment to confusion, all conveyed with few differing details by Steffensmeier: just different angles, eyebrows, and body language.

I'd also like to note that the farmer is a woman, which I found refreshing - try to name another book where the farmer is female!

Millie waits for the mail is an amusing book that stands up to multiple readings. Highly recommended.

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