'Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon'


June 21, 2000|By Gennifer Choldenko

Editor's note: A determined bovine makes her dreams of reaching for the stars come true.

Mother Goose ... what a bag of feathers she is. She makes it sound so easy. Nine hundred forty-one pounds of cow meat, not counting the udder, catapults 240,000 miles to jump over the moon -- and what does that old goose woman write? One lousy line -- not even a whole poem.

First of all, you may not know this, but we horses jump over the moon on a regular basis. We begin training from a very early age. Which is just what we were doing when this cow started hanging around.

Every day she was there, cold weather or warm.

"Look, kid," I said to the cow, "you can't keep doing this. You're going to get hurt. Why don't you go chew the cud with your cow friends?"

"No," she said. "I'm going to jump the moon."

"Honey, come on! You're a cow. Take a look at that body of yours ... those short little legs, that galumphing stride ... "

"I don't care," she said. "I'm going to. Every night I look up and say to myself, One day I'm going to see what the moon looks like up close. One day I'm going to jump clear over that moon."

Now I understood. This cow was MOONSTRUCK! There was no use trying to talk sense to her.

First thing in the morning, there she was. Last thing at night ... still there.

So that's how it went for most of the season until we got down to the final part of the training: the Wall.

Then all of a sudden, there she was, thundering toward the Wall, her cowbell clanking wildly.

"No!" I hollered as the cow gathered her legs under her and sprang all the way over the great stone hurdle.

"Yes! Yes!" the horses shouted, stamping their hooves in salute to that black-and-white babe.

After that, I have to tell you, I had to rethink the whole cow thing. Some years half my horses can't clear the Wall and here this crazy bovine jumped it first time out. So that very day I posted a list of the horses who were ready to jump the moon. And on the list I included the cow.

When the cow found out she'd been chosen, you could hear her mooing from one end of the farm to the other. She was so excited, she could hardly keep her mind on schooling these last few days.

But when the night came for her to jump, she was calm and confident, her mind focused on flight.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... BLAST OFF! And she burst forward down the hill.

Faster and faster the cow galloped down the hill. Faster and faster she went as she gathered her legs under her and rocketed into the night.

Higher and higher the cow flew, careening through space at an incredible speed.

Up and up and up until one, two, three, all four of her stubby legs soared past that big old moon. And then when there was nothing left to see, gently, gently, gravity brought her back to Earth again.

Well, I can tell you that when she came back, there wasn't a dry eye on the whole planet. Which is why I know for certain that Old Mother Goose wasn't around. Because if she'd seen that holstein jump the moon with her own eyes, she wouldn't be wasting her time writing about cats and fiddles and the courtship of dishes and spoons. She would have written a whole book about that cow.

Excerpted from the book MOONSTRUCK: THE TRUE STORY OF THE COW WHO JUMPED OVER THE MOON. Text copyright c 1997 by Gennifer Choldenko. Illustrations copyright c 1997 by Paul Yalowitz. Reprinted by permission of Hyperion Books for Children. All rights reserved.

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