Audrey (cow) by Dan Bar-el

Audrey is a cow with poetry in her blood, who yearns for the greener pastures beyond Bittersweet Farms. But when Roy the horse tells this bovine dreamer that she is headed for Abbot’s War, the slaughter house, Audrey knows that she must leave her home and friends sooner than she ever imagined. With the help of a whole crew of animals and humans alike, Audrey attempts to escape the farm she lives on–and certain death. Cleverly written as an oral account, this unique illustrated tale of an animal on the run, told “to camera”, uses over thirty narrative voices, including six humans, four cows, three sheep, two sheep dogs, one pig and a very silly rooster. Full of heart and humor, Audrey (cow) is ultimately a very human story about life and death, friendship, and holding on to one’s dreams–based more or less on a true story.


Audrey is a sweet middle grade read with a unique narrative style.  The story is told through transcripts of interviews with animals and humans. Adorable black and white illustrations are also included throughout.

When Audrey (cow) learns she is heading to the slaughterhouse, she enlists the help of a variety of farm and woodland animals. I was surprised to learn that Audrey was inspired by a true story of Charlene- a cow in Ohio that escaped the slaughterhouse. One can’t help to rejoice!  However, as a former vegetarian, I quickly found myself thinking (again!) about the treatment of animals for food. As Audrey states, ‘… I think that if I was to choose just one word to describe myself, that word would be alive.” Not only are animals alive, but they have personalities and emotions, and like Audrey, may even enjoy poetry! This book would be a great discussion starter on serious topics like the meat industry, treatment of animals and vegetarianism.

Fortunately, for Audrey, her story is a happy one. With themes of friendship and courage, this book is recommended for all animal lovers.

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