Award Nominations for Audrey (cow)!

I am so thrilled to announce that Audrey (cow) has been shortlisted for several awards including:

2015 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award in the Young Adult/Middle Reader category

2014-2015 Red Cedar Book Award in the Fiction category


2015-2016 Maine Student Book Award

Thank you to all the selection committees for bringing Audrey into such illustrious groups of books!


Reviews, reviews, reviews!

Audrey (cow) has been reviewed by a bunch of websites and bloggers in the past few months. I would like to use this post to highlight some of their comments as well as acknowledge my appreciation for choosing to focus on one of my books. Thank you, one and all!

“I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that this is the story of Audrey’s escape. What I won’t spoil is the how of the matter– the escape is rather magnificent in its scope, involves a colourful cast of characters, and shuttles between brave and ludicrous, touching and hilarious. In terms of plot, this is all I’ll say. The star of this story, however, is the style and format which will take up the rest of my post!”

The Book Wars    January 30, 2015

“This was such a great read to start the new year. A fun, beautifully written book full of inspiration.”

Wild About Reading   January 23, 2015

“Like Charlotte’s Web and Babe, this humorous story is perfect as a primary grades read-aloud. It would also be fun as a reader’s theater-type experience with groups of older children reading to younger listeners in a library setting.”

Teacher Librarians: Bridging Theory and Practice   January 19, 2015

“Even independent readers need a snuggle and a read-aloud before turning in at night. … This clever book has excellent characterizations, descriptions and dialogue.”

Winston-Salem Journal   January 18, 2015

“A teacher, parent, or librarian with serious read-aloud talent would have a field day with this Audrey (cow). If you’ve got a gift for funny voices and a kid to read to, go out and buy this book NOW.”

Writer Reading Kidlit     December 23, 2014

“Your life will be better for having met Audrey! … Funny, captivating, thoughtful and very cleverly written, this is a tale that will find a place in your heart and live long in your memory.”

 Sal’s Fiction Addiction   December 19, 2014

“Told “to camera”, in more than 30 narrative voices, this amusing tale is filled with heart and honours the dreamer.”

 City Parent    October 27, 2014

 “A gentle read that contains hefty themes.”

Dog Ear    December 11, 2014

“I’m totally guilty of judging a book by it’s cover on this one.  I originally requested this book from Librarything because I LOVED the cover art.  It’s beautiful, colorful and inspiring.  Illustrated by Tatiana Mai-Wyss, the illustrations in Audrey are just as good as the story and add a beautiful whimsical touch to what can be at times a serious story about an unusual cow.”

The Vegbrarian    December 29, 2014

“This is great book for taking to kids about voice. With so many characters, it is hard to believe that each one has a unique voice, but they do! … It would also be fun to create a class writing project trying to emulate this style in different setting, depending on what you are studying.”

Books and Bassets    December 7, 2014

Two more starred reviews! Publishers Weekly & School Library Journal


There’s a lot of noise around the farm over here. The cows are bellowing, the chickens are clucking, the pigs are squealing and the sheep – well, okay, the sheep are still just grazing. But other than them, everyone is excited because Audrey (cow) has been given a big thumbs up from two more distinguished review sites!

“… Bar-el  (Nine Words Max) creates a humorous chorus of perspectives, temperaments, dialects, and cadences. … Mai-Wyss’s (A Giraffe Did One) b&w watercolors bolster the lighthearted atmosphere of this thoroughly charming story of a cow determined to chart her own destiny, inspired by an actual incident. Ages 7–10.”

Publishers Weekly, October 13, 2014

“Written in transcripts of interviews from the perspective of various animal and human characters, the book emphasizes the emotional reactions of those surrounding Audrey. These monologues give readers the opportunity to discern different perspectives about the same events. Readers must make conclusions and predictions about the events, weighing the relative reliability of the various narrators. A unique approach to a sensitive topic.”

School Library Journal, December 2014



A Starred Review in Quill & Quire!

Audrey(cow) in Quill and Quire 001

Quill & Quire – Canada’s Magazine of Book News and Reviews – gave Audrey (cow) a starred review in their November 2014 issue! Here’s a sample:

“The back-and-forth among the characters is over the top, both in its portrayal of animals’ personalities and old-timey expressions (‘jumpin’ June bugs,’ for instance), but Bar-el pulls it off with great charm. The result is purely delightful, as are Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s appropriately vintage-looking spot illustrations. …

Bar-el manages to gently and thoughtfully introduce kids to the concept of the abattoir while underscoring that a farm’s very purpose is producing food. At its heart, Audrey (cow) encourages kids to think even as it entertains – the mark of wonderful children’s literature.”

review written by Cara Smusiak, a writer and editor in Toronto

An Early Review of Audrey (cow) and It’s Starred!

The official release of Audrey (cow) isn’t until November 11th, but the buzz is already starting, while events and presentations of the book are already in the works too. But more on that later. Right now, I’d like to post the first review which came from Kirkus:

     Move aside Wilbur and Babe. There’s a new farmyard hero in town, and she has no desire to end up hamburger.

     Audrey isn’t like the other cows. They might accept their lot as “food cows,” but she has other ideas. After her mother is taken away to a slaughterhouse, the feisty Charolais concocts an elaborate escape for herself using the expertise and help of her barnyard friends. However, the escape itself proves to be only half the battle, and Audrey’s experiences in the wild forest with its unpredictable denizens put both brains and moxie to the test. In a multiple-perspective, documentary-like format, each animal tells its part of the story with terrific humor and personality. From pompous Charlton the rooster, who considers his role in the story a moment of deus ex machina (“as the Romans would call it”), to a parliament of consensus-minded sheep to a thoroughly prejudiced squirrel, the many voices make the book an ideal read-aloud for a classroom and ideal fodder for readers’ theater. Bar-el is also unafraid to engage in truly lovely descriptive writing (one cow’s grief over losing her son is said to be akin to “a mist like we’d get on gray, foggy mornings that made the farm seem as if it were fading away along its edges”).

     Part Great Escape, part Hatchet, part Charlotte’s Web, all wonderful. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)