Zig and Wikki in THE COW, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler, 40 pp, RL 1.5

TOON Books creators Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler are back with another story about an alien, Zig, and his talking, walking computer, Wikki. As we saw in their first adventure,  Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, Zig is curious and fascinated by all the things he discovers on earth while Wikki, kind of cranky and bossy, just wants to get back on the space ship and head home while occasionally flashing bursts of pertinent information on his stomach, um, I mean screen. In the first book, Zig needed a pet for a school project and captures a fly to take home with him. When Zig and Wikki in The Cow begins, we find Zig worrying about the lethargic state of his pet.
Wikki, just a tiny bit jealous, convinces Zig (with a flash of his screen that teaches them the concept of "ecosystem") to take the fly back to Earth. One of the really innovative and fantastic things about the Zig and Wikki books are the way that Spiegelman incorporates facts into the book, by way of Wikki's screen. This is genius on two levels. Kids in our screen oriented society will relate to this right away, and the sort of "candy coating" of the fictional story of Zig and Wikki makes the factoids all the more interesting. As the mother of two boys who have an intense interest in nature and science, I think I have a pretty good fact base when it comes to books like this. But, as with Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, I find that I am still learning new things. The kind of things you want to turn around and share with the person sitting next to you.
Zig and Wikki learn about farms and land in a pasture where Wikki promptly releases the fly. Upset, Zig chases after him and the two go on to learn about ruminants, energy, dung beetles, decomposers, soil and microorganisms while almost being eaten by a cow. When Wikki realizes that their ship has been eaten by a cow - you guessed it - the two hide in the grass and let themselves get eaten, ruminated and eaten again. Eeewww. In the end, they are burped out (did you know that each day a cow burps about 400 times more gas than a human does? I learned that from Wikki's Fun Facts at the end of the book.)

Zig and Wikki in The Cow is by far more interesting and entertaining than any other non-fiction beginning reader  book I have come across lately and is sure to be enthusiastically embraced by any emerging reader who comes across it!

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