Maxy lives on her family’s farm, but since her beloved herd of cows had to be killed for suspected disease, she hasn’t wanted to admit they’ve gone. Instead, Maxy still feeds and talks to her pretend cows, often preferring to stay out in her favourite tree than go inside.
When mum falls ill during a pregnancy and has to stay in hospital, Maxy’s father brings home some chickens for Maxy to look after. Helping dad to set up the chicken coop is a welcome focus for Maxy, who comes to really like one of the chickens, moody cross-breed Minerva. Despite the others starting to lay eggs almost straight away, Minerva seems to find it difficult to settle in.
Yet when mum finally has her baby, Minerva lays an egg, and Maxy has something to bring her mum as a welcome home present.
Another excellent short read in Nicola Davies’ and Cathy Fisher’s series of stories about children in the countryside, Pretend Cows is a heartwarming tale of a child coming to terms with loss and the worry of her mum’s difficult pregnancy. Minerva the chicken’s difficulty laying an egg mirrors Maxy’s mum’s own difficulties – as always in these books, nature can be cruel but also transformative and healing too.