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The Old Cow & the Cricket

A young cricket in the city looking for something to do stumbles upon an old cow in the park doing kung fu.

Photo of Anh Nguyen

Written by

The city is hot on this summer day. 

And cricket is looking for a cool place to stay.

Building to building. Nothing to do.

The doors keep closing before she can get through.

“I’m bored. I wish I had something to do.”

And jumped right into a brown coat of MOO!

“What are you doing here in my park?”

“I’m looking for shade from the heat until dark.”

“There’s shade by the tree. But stay out of the way.

I’m doing my morning kung fu today.”

With a kick from the cow, the cricket jumped to the right.

And watched the old cow punch with all her might.

The city seemed far, and the wind seemed strong.

And the cricket decided to follow along.

“That’s not quite right, but I like your style.

Would you like to do some kung fu for a while?”

So they get in position. And they kick. And they punch.

The old cow and the cricket are friends before lunch.

Surrounded by city, in this park in the shade.

They practice kung fu till the sun starts to fade.

 “May I come tomorrow? I want to get better.”

“Of course, little cricket. You’re such a go getter.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow. I want to learn more.”

She just couldn’t wait to see what was in store.

The city is full of fun things to be found,

as long as you’re willing to wander around.

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

We plan for this book to be the first in a series about the intercultural, intergenerational friendship that grows between an old cow and a cricket doing kung fu together. We want to inspire children and caregivers by showing real kung fu moves with very different body types and builds through playful animal illustrations.

Share your suggested book title

The Old Cow & the Cricket

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

See above.

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

The book is rooted in rhythm, cadence, and connecting to physical things to do. In getting feedback from parents and friends, comments were made about the ease of reading, the ability for repetition, and dialogue that matched real-life. The books also provide small activities that caregivers can do with children and connect them to a more active community. Research (UNICEF, 2018) shows the importance of play and physical activity. And Gopnik (2011) talks about this stage of development for children as being prime in terms of openness, exploration, and inclusion which is a strong part of kung fu and the various types of animals and styles involved in it.

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

I am currently in Pennsylvania and have visited friends living in the Philadelphia area several times. I have seen both the city and surrounding suburbans areas, along with some college campuses. This book was inspired in part from my training in martial arts with my kung fu school in Texas, but there is a branch of our school system in Philadelphia run by a colleague of mine. I also run a branch of our school in York, Pennsylvania where I conduct small private group lessons.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

Having taught in urban areas, I found that kids would look for things to do. Within the city, there are often pockets of space where children find and explore new ways of existing in the community. Martial arts offers a chance at intercultural and intergenerational connections that you don’t always find in other settings. The book is based on finding friendships across ages and body type. It demonstrates how anyone can be active in the city or anywhere by learning and practicing kung fu and tai chi, which can be lifelong skills that benefit mind and body and overall well-being. For young readers it offers a look at finding unexpected things to do in their community.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

I have a Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on intercultural development. Lesa is a physician with experience in pediatric and maternal health. And Ben is an awesome illustrator. Master Ben, Master Lesa, and I (Master Annie) have done kung fu for many years, each attaining 5th degree black belt. This marks my 23rd year of kung fu and Lesa's 19th year. Over the years we've had fun stories and nicknames, including the self-named Old Cow (Lesa) and the Cricket (Annie). This story came about as a work toward sharing that fun and friendship and kung fu with the next generation of martial artists. As someone who taught kung fu to children for several years, I know that even at 3 to 5 they are excited to learn something new. I worked with kids dealing with anger management and kids looking to focus. And with everything else happening in their lives, martial arts helped build a foundation. The Old Cow and the Cricket is at its core about that friendship with a side of silliness.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Looking at fun illustrations with kung fu movements. Another textural aspect for the book might be to include a brown, black, and white, fuzzy texture similar to cow hide that you would find in the middle of the story when the cricket bumps into the cow. The book could potentially have a small cut out that grew bigger as you turned the pages until you met the cow. And for each page, the texture would be incorporated into the scenery.

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

  • No

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 PJ Hoover

Oh, how much I love this! The kung fu references feel so authentic and not forced at all. The budding friendship is sweet and something kids can relate to. And I love the message that sometimes we don't even know we are looking for something until we find it. So well done!

Photo of Anh Nguyen

Thanks so much! Glad that we were able to convey our story authentically.

Photo of Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH

We were excited to share our book submission via social media for feedback. So far, the feedback has been very positive. Here's one of the most recent comments: "This book makes me happy. I admire the array of positive, motivational messages it brings in a fun, simple, playful format. I am proud to know each of you amazing, talented martial artists!!" [MB]

Photo of Robyn Campbell

Really enjoyed it. Best of luck.

Photo of Anh Nguyen

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

Photo of Peggy Sissel, Ed.D.

This is adorable! It made me want to see these two in pictures. Great rhyming too. I especially liked "they were friends before lunch!"

Photo of Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH

Thank you Peggy Sissel, Ed.D. . The book reflects the deep, long-lasting, and fun friendship between Master Annie and me that has grown through our many years of doing kung fu and tai chi together. Strong, caring, diverse, and inclusive relationships are so important for children as well as adults. Urban environments offer many opportunities for us to learn about other cultures, perspectives, etc. The book invites both the caregiver and child to enter and explore an active world of adventure and friendship and honors the importance of diversity and inclusion in developing rich relationships.

Photo of Daniela Restrepo Ortiz

I love how this book invites the caregiver and the child to go out together and explore the city. Would be helpful to include more references to the physical space or the urban setting, since the story takes place in the city. This could also be done through the illustrations! I love the rhythm and cadence and how a personal friendship story between the authors served as an inspiration to put together a beautiful story!

Photo of Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH

Thanks so much Daniela Restrepo Ortiz  for your comment! Yes, we think that the illustrations will be key, especially as the cricket starts the journey going through the city and the park images as well. The illustrations along with the narrative, of course, can bring up other topics of conversations between the caregiver and child about their city spaces and all the places to explore. For example, after reading the book and while going around the city together, caregivers could point out places to children and say something like, "I wonder if the Cricket has been here?" or "How would the Old Cow and the Cricket like this place?", "What could the Cricket do here?", etc.

Photo of Dawnnbooks .

It is an interesting title and the story did not disappoint. The illustrator will have an easy job working on this story.
Nicely done.

Photo of Anh Nguyen

Thanks! Glad it lived up to the title.