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City Cows

From riding the bus to spotting the taco truck, the city cows help us explore and celebrate the best parts of being a city kid, er ... cow.

Photo of christine lejeune
5 4

Written by


City cows love scooters, 

though some walk or ride a bike.

Some catch a bus or take a cab

to the city spots they like. 

They adore a museum visit 

and a picnic in the park. 

They eat tacos or falafel

from their favorite lunchtime carts.

A city cow loves playgrounds,

and spraygrounds and the zoo; 

farmers markets, libraries, 

and rooftop swimming, too.

Sometimes they like to stay at home

and enjoy their city block. 

They water plants, they sweep the stoops,

they share their sidewalk chalk.  

And then there are those weekends

when the city cows cut loose:

They visit friends, they dance all night 

and sip on cold cow juice. 

They love how many different cows

from different sorts of places

make friends with one another

and share their city spaces. 

In concert halls, they tap their toes.

In baseball parks, they cheer.

At plays, they clap and yell, “Bravo!” 

In bagel shops, they schmear.

In Chinatown, for dim sum, 

they eat dumplings by the dozen.

And when they need a city break? 

They go see their country cousins. (“MOO.”)   

[Art note: The country cousins are normal cows, in a normal cow pasture, with hay, etc.]


180 words. 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

City Cows is a picture book with illustrations that capture the same joyful, not-so-serious spirit of the narrative, as we see our city cows explore and enjoy the same city things WE like, too: bus rides! The library! Taco trucks! My hope would also be to plant the seed in little brains--both visually and with the text--that part of the awesomeness of city living is that we share these places and experiences with all kinds of different neighbors, with “cows” from all sorts of backgrounds.

Share your suggested book title

City Cows

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I incorporated a number of developmentally important aspects into City Cows, all of which are research-based. First example? Rhyming, which has been shown by myriad studies to help boost word retention from babyhood forward. I also stuck to simple (mostly Tier 1) vocabulary and made an effort to choose language and scenes that reflect the lives of my audience. There’s also a lot of naming of things (e.g. “zoo”) and activities (e.g. “ride the bus”) in the book, which research has shown as particularly beneficial to young toddlers learning to spot and name familiar objects. One of my greatest inspirations in terms of early childhood literacy research, though, is all I’ve read (from Mem Fox and others) about how spending joyful time reading to a child from the moment that child is born literally shapes the way the child reads and learns and speaks. And so my goal was also to create a book that both a caregiver and a little one could and would read over and over and over again … joyfully.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I'm a Philly resident -- going on almost 12 years now. I am also a journalist who has spent those 12 years writing about the city and its people and the cultural fabric that makes us who we are. And finally? I'm a mom of two little Philadelphians, and spent five years co-running and writing for a website ( that focused on raising kids in the city.

Location: Country

United States of America

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

If yes, please list titles and publications.

I have been published as a writer (I work in magazines) but never yet as an author of children's literature.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ravyn Davis

This book is just so charming. I like the twist at the end with the country cousins, and the mooing sound is just the sort of joke that a 2-year-old would adore. You managed to cover a wide range of topics without sounding perfunctory or forced. Well done!

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