Shadowing the UKLA Book Awards 2015

UKLA shadowing – Cowgirl by GR Gemin

I joined the ages 7-11 shadowing group yesterday to discuss their first book in the shortlist, Cowgirl by GR Gemin. The book has a intriguing and unique synopsis – a community pulls together to hide a herd of cows on a council estate in South Wales. Whilst community action is the overarching theme, there are numerous threads running through the story including bullying, diversity, family relationships, repercussions of the foot and mouth outbreak, parents in prison and socio-economic issues on the estate. The group felt though that there were too many of these threads and that many weren’t fully explored and almost abandoned at points. Maybe the author was too ambitious in trying to incorporate a lot of issues? There were some strong characters, particularly Cowgirl and the grandmother, but it was felt that other characters were inconsistent although the use of a child first person (unreliable?) narrator may have contributed towards this. Another point in question was the cow print book cover as it was felt that the pink writing and flowers could be off-putting for some children even though the story is not ‘girly’ in any way. The storyline in general was enjoyed by the majority of the group, but the book was not considered to be of sufficient richness for classroom use.

Have you read the book? What did you think?


  • caro laing
    April 25, 2015 - 5:28 am | Permalink

    In contrast to your summary, you might be interested to know that this book is republished as part of the Oxford University Press Rollercoaster series, with teachers resources for the classroom.

    • May 7, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing that out Caro! Interesting as well that OUP have pitched Cowgirl at the 11-14 age group. We’ll get a copy for the Curriculum Centre when it’s published at the end of this month. I see that Cowgirl is on the Branford Boase Award shortlist too – well done GR Gemin!

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