Written by Erica Silverman
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Best friends Kate and her horse, Cocoa, team up for two delightful stories in Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa.
In the first story, “The Surprise,” Cocoa shows his impatience when Kate enters the barn with a surprise package. Cocoa wants his surprise immediately. He refuses to eat his breakfast and shows his irritation when Kate grooms him. When Cocoa takes a bite out of his new straw hat surprise, Cocoa learns his lesson about being impatient and obstinate.
In “Bedtime in the Barn,” Kate camps out in the barn with her pet horse, Cocoa. Each time Kate attempts to settle down for sleep, Cocoa has a request, like fluffing his straw, hunger, or thirst. Once Cocoa is finally satisfied, Kate can’t fall asleep. Cocoa saves the day when he sings her a sweet lullaby and snuggles close to her on the straw.
The Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series by popular duo Silverman and Lewin are familiar titles with teachers and librarians and have been reissued under the “Green Light Reader” category. The Kate and Cocoa series is a Level 2 Green Light Readers story, for those who can read with help. The most difficult word in the story is the word “curried,” used when Kate grooms the horse. With sentence brevity and simple vocabulary, children will feel great success when reading this story. This book is appropriate for late kindergarten grade level or early first grade level.
This book would be an excellent read for children who need to learn about patience. The humorous ending of the story helps children learn a lesson, but chuckle along with Cowgirl Kate as Cocoa gets his just reward for acting petulantly. The second story in the book is perfect for children who are thinking about getting a pet. Children learn about being a responsible pet owner and the needs and requirements of an animal when Kate camps out in the barn. And lastly, another bonus for reading this story is the enjoyment of the friendship between Kate and Cocoa. Young readers internalize the concept that not all best friends are the two-legged kind!
To make this book even more fun to read, readers can build a fort in the house or classroom with sheets draped over chairs or a table. Then, place a flashlight inside the “tent” and dim the lights in that area, if possible, and allow the children to read by flashlight and pretend to camp out in the barn, like Kate does.
For follow-up reading activities, teachers or parents should check out the teachers’ guide icon on the left margin of this page: http://www.ericasilverman.com/works.htm. Also after reading the story, make a bar graph of the students’ pets. Which pet is the most popular? The most unusual? Smallest or largest? Discuss at length the responsibilities of owning a pet. Talk about the needs and requirements of the different pets in the class graph, as well as the cost and emotional responsibilities of owning a pet.