Saturday, May 21, 2011

Picture Book: Rodeo Ron and His Milkshake Cows (by Rowen Clifford)

Riding atop a bright red cow, Rodeo Ron moseys into the town of Cavity.  Three more cows—yellow, blue, and green in color—follow behind.   Burping and running, the towns’ children gather round Rodeo Ron, wondering why his cows are unusual colors.   Ron explains that the red one only eats strawberries, the blue one eats blueberries, and the yellow one eats bananas.  The green one munches only grass and provides “cow juice” (milk).  The children have never had cow juice before.  They only consume sweet drinks at the soda shop of two brothers—Frothy and Fruity.  It shows…the townspeople’s teeth are dirty, brown stumps. 

The children lead Rodeo Ron to the soda shop where everybody is gathered.  Burping as they work, the brothers create a sugary treat for him.  He takes a big, long gulp and lets out the biggest burp of his life!   Ron points out that these sweet and frothy drinks are the cause of their bad teeth!   Frothy and Fruity challenge Rodeo Ron to a contest to see who can make the tastiest beverage.  The brothers “BURP! BURP! BURP!” as they create their best concoctions.  Each of Ron’s cows buck, bronk, shiver, and shake their way to the frothiest and fruitiest shakes in strawberry, blueberry, and banana.  Each time, he wins the taste test.  Finally, the green cow dances his way to the frothiest, creamiest, whitest milk.   The townspeople declare it “the finest drink ever!”  Now, the soda bar is replaced by a milk bar.   Instead of dirty, brown stumps, the townspeople now have bright, white smiles. 

Rowen Clifford wrote this imaginative story and created the vibrant pictures.  Rodeo Ron and His Milkshake Cows is set in the Old West, but the narrative incorporates the modern with the soda shop and the milkshakes.   It uses a common childhood fantastical element of different color cows being the origin of the various flavors of milk. (Who hasn’t jokingly said chocolate milk comes from brown cows?)  In an entertaining and subtle manner, the story teaches the importance of a wholesome diet, including healthy drinks like calcium-rich milk, while incorporating the incredible characteristics of tall tales.  I recommend Rodeo Ron and His Milkshake Cows for ages 4-10.   

Teaching Opportunities:
·         Choral Reading—The repetitive pattern during the competition is an amusing choral reading occasion.
·         Similes—Identify the similes in the narrative.  Discuss other stories with similies or complete additional activities with similes.  Create other similes for actions or descriptions in the story.
·         Alliteration—Identify examples of alliteration.  For younger children, connect the sounds to the corresponding letters. For older ones, create examples of alliterative phrases or study poems with alliteration. 
·         Health—Teach about oral hygiene and the importance of limiting sugary drink/food consumptions. 
·         Literature—Connect this narrative to a unit study of tall tales or discuss the characteristics of a tall tale and how they related to Rodeo Ron and His Milkshake Cows.  
·         Comparative Literature—Pick another tall tale from the library or book store.  Compare the two using a Venn Diagram or other chart.
·         Field Trip—Visit a local dairy farm (or find a video about one). 
·         Cooking—Create a milkshake concoction of your own!  Use a basic recipe for a milk shake and add ingredients of your choice—strawberries, bananas, mangos, and so forth. 
·         History/Social Studies—Add this story to a unit study on (or related to) cowboys. 

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