The Big Cowhuna

The Big Cowhuna

by Mike Litwin

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Overview


Chuck and Dakota find a magic seashell complete with a wish-granting genie inside. But they soon discover too much of a good thing can sometimes be a problem!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807587140
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Series: Welcome to Bermooda! Series , #3
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author


Mike Litwin combines a variety of media to create scenes that serve the imagination and education of children. A graduate of the East Carolina University School of Art and Design, he plays both designer and illustrator with an often wacky, always delightful style. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.



Mike Litwin combines a variety of media to create scenes that serve the imagination and education of children. A graduate of the East Carolina University School of Art and Design, he plays both designer and illustrator with an often wacky, always delightful style. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.


Read an Excerpt

The Big Cowhuna


By Mike Litwin

ALBERT WHITMAN & Company

Copyright © 2015 Mike Litwin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-0101-4



CHAPTER 1

The Peaceful Day


For hundreds of years, the secret, sunny island of Bermooda was a rather uneventful place. There were plenty of exciting and enjoyable moments, of course, but always in the name of progress or good fun. It was rare that the cows of Bermooda saw anything dangerous or out of the ordinary happen. Most things on this tiny tropical paradise were just as peaceful and predictable as the constant rolling of ocean waves upon the shore. But that was all before the days of Chuck and Dakota Porter.

Sure, lots of folks have talents. Some folks have a knack for swimming and sailing, some have a knack for baking coconut cheesecake, and some even have a knack for growing beautiful hibiscus flowers. In the case of Chuck and Dakota Porter ... well, they had a knack for finding trouble, even in a place like Bermooda.

It had all started the day Chuck found Dakota washed up on a sandbar. Dakota was not a cow like Chuck. Nor was he a pig, a bird, a monkey, or any of the other animals that walked, talked, and lived on the island. Dakota was a hu'man, a savage creature everyone believed had been extinct for ages. No one on the island had ever seen a hu'man before, and no one seemed to know much about them, except for the legend about how they were nothing but monsters that ate cows and breathed fire. To keep the island from plunging into panic, Chuck dressed Dakota in "cowmouflage"—a cow costume to hide his real identity. Since Dakota had no home and no family, Chuck brought him home to the Porter House. Dakota was eventually adopted into the family, though no one had any clue he was really a hu'man.

Ever since then, life on Bermooda had become much more eventful. Chuck was a daring calf, and if he couldn't find any excitement, he'd simply make some. This bold spirit constantly led him and his newly adopted brother into dangerous and thrilling situations. It seemed like every day was a new adventure.

Today, however, was not one of those days. Today was quiet and peaceful. No mysteries, no discoveries, no adventures of any kind. Just the crashing of waves, a warm breeze, and the gentle cawing of seagulls. As far as Dakota was concerned, it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday. Dakota was far less interested in adventure or excitement than Chuck. He would much rather spend the day lying in the thick grass under the tall trees, wearing a straw hat and filling up on delicious bananas. That is what they were doing on this Saturday in particular.

"Pass me another banana," Dakota said.

"This is the last one," Chuck said, tossing it to him. "If you want more, you'll have to climb another tree."

Dakota looked up at the trees towering over them. Bermooda's banana trees stood nearly twenty feet tall. Clumps of yummy yellow bananas teased their eyes, dangling up out of reach. Bermooda's cows were capable of doing many things that an average cow could not, but climbing trees was not one of them.

However, Dakota was excellent at climbing trees since he had fingers and toes instead of hooves. His climbing was not quite as fast as a monkey's, but it saved them the trouble of dragging out a ladder. But Dakota felt quite relaxed at the moment and was not in the mood to scramble back up and fetch any more bananas. Propping his back against a tree, he pulled his straw hat down over his eyes and folded his hands behind his head.

Meanwhile Chuck paced back and forth in the grass. "I'm soooooo boooooored!" he mooed. "Aren't you bored?"

"Nope," Dakota replied from under his hat.

"Doesn't it feel like something should happen?" Chuck asked.

"Nope," Dakota repeated.

"Don't you want to do anything exciting?" Chuck whined.

"Nope," Dakota sighed. "I'm just fine right here."

Dakota heard the sound of Chuck clomping over to him. Suddenly his eyes were treated to a flood of warm sunlight as Chuck pulled the hat off his face.

"Can we at least take a walk?" Chuck asked.

Dakota blinked in the sudden brightness. "Sure," he said, adjusting his cow mask as he climbed to his feet.

They ambled toward the beach and then strolled along the shore, with Dakota eating his last banana and Chuck complaining about his boredom all the way.

"I wish something amazing would happen," he mumbled, picking up a rock from the beach. "We've probably made this boring walk a billion times." He pitched the rock far ahead of them. It whizzed through the air and landed in the soft sand with a loud clank!

Chuck and Dakota exchanged confused looks.

"What was that clanking noise?" Chuck wondered aloud.

They trotted up to the place where the rock had landed, looking for the source of the sound. There, half-buried in the sand, they found a shiny purple shell.

Chuck was immediately fascinated. He had always been interested in shells, and he had become a bit of an expert. Not only did he learn about them in school, but he also took extra time on his own to research the ones displayed in the Hortica Center, the island's museum. But of all the shells he had studied, he had never seen one like this.

The shell was twisted into a cone-shaped spiral like a tiny tornado. But the shell's shape wasn't what made it so bizarre. Its entire surface was covered with a pattern of loops and swirls, as if thousands of permanent fingerprints had been left all over it. A string of symbols was etched along its twisted spiral curve. They almost looked like letters but not in any language that Chuck or Dakota could read.

"Wow!" Chuck said as his tail twitched all over the place. "Now this is amazing!" He turned the shell over in his hooves. "Look at these weird loopy patterns! And these markings! It almost looks like some kind of ancient writing. I've never seen anything like this before."

"Well, I guess there's a first time for everything," Dakota said with a shrug.

"No, you don't get it," Chuck said, shaking his head. "This is impossible. Nothing like this occurs in nature. This shell shouldn't be here."

They looked down at the strange shell. Glowing in the slanted light of the late afternoon sun, it almost looked alive. A gleam ran across its pearly purple surface, as if it were telling them it was happy to be found.

"Are you going to keep it?" Dakota asked.

"Of course," Chuck said. "You know I like to collect cool stuff."

Dakota looked at the excited expression on Chuck's face. He suddenly had a feeling things were about to become a lot less peaceful.

CHAPTER 2

The Impossible


Chuck held the shell up to his ear. "Wow! I can hear the ocean!"

"Of course you can hear the ocean," Dakota answered, rolling his eyes. "It's only twenty feet away."

Chuck ignored the comment. Dakota was never easily amazed, and Chuck wasn't going to let him ruin his excitement. "I have an idea! We should take it to the Hortica Center!" he suggested. "Maybe Cornelius knows what kind of shell it is."

Cornelius was the screech owl who ran the island's museum. To the best of everyone's knowledge, he was the expert on all things related to Bermooda's history, residents, and environment. If anyone could tell them about this shell, it would be him.

The Hortica Center was across the island in the middle of Bermooda Village. By the time Chuck and Dakota walked over there, the sun was already sitting low in the deep orange sky. They arrived to find Cornelius fluttering with his back to them, closing the museum doors for the evening.

"Wait!" Chuck mooed, hoofing it up to the doors. "Cornelius, wait!"

The sound of Chuck's voice surprised Cornelius. It was unusual for calves to visit the museum so close to suppertime on a Saturday, even a calf as curious as Chuck. The little owl jumped with a start and several brown feathers molted from his back, fluttering to the ground as he turned.

"Good evening, Mister Porter," Cornelius said in his cultured, proper voice. "And the other Mister Porter," he nodded his head at Dakota. "Shouldn't you two be at home having supper?"

"We found something we wanted you to look at," Chuck said, catching his breath. He held up the glittery purple shell for Cornelius to see.

"Oh, now ... that is interesting," Cornelius hooted. "Very interesting indeed." He opened the museum doors with his feet. "Bring that inside and we'll take a closer look."

Chuck and Dakota followed Cornelius into the main hall of the museum, where they stopped at the front desk. Behind the desk, Cornelius landed on a bamboo perch underneath a brass sign that read: H.M.S. Hortica. This was where Cornelius sat to greet visitors whenever he wasn't giving an official tour. Chuck put the shell on the desk for Cornelius to examine. As the two of them inspected the new discovery, Dakota looked at the exhibits around them.

The museum was a fascinating place. It displayed all kinds of relics from the H.M.S. Hortica—the hu'man ship full of cows that had wrecked on Bermooda hundreds of years ago. There were globes, spyglasses, books, and clothing. It was the only real connection Dakota—or anyone—had with the lost hu'man world.

Cornelius squinted at the shell through the gold-rimmed monocle over his left eye, and then he hooted the same line Chuck had uttered on the beach.

"I've never seen anything like this before," he said. "Not in nature, nor in history. None that I've studied anyway. This is ... impossible." He stared blankly at the shell for a moment, and then he flapped down from his perch and rummaged around a small bookshelf in a dark corner behind the desk. He carried back a thick volume with pages that shone with pale gold edges. Little clouds of dust flew up from the book as it landed on the desk with a thud. Pressed into its dingy green cover was the title Compendium of the Impossible.

"Com-pen-dee-um?" Dakota sounded out the word. "What does that mean?"

"A compendium is a reference book," Cornelius explained. "This one contains accounts of impossible objects from history, written by ancient hu'mans who claimed to have seen them."

"'Claimed' to have seen?" Chuck asked. "They didn't actually see them?"

"It's difficult to tell," Cornelius muttered almost in a whisper. "These were fabled trinkets that no one had seen before and no one has seen since. Hu'mans said these objects were capable of mysterious and terrible magic!"

"Magic?" Dakota said, his voice trembling slightly.

"Only if you believe in that sort of thing," Cornelius said. "I'm sure there was nothing really special about those items. But perhaps your shell has been seen before."

Chuck and Dakota leafed through the wrinkly pages. Most of the museum's books were about science, art, history, and sailing, but none of them were as interesting as this one. It was filled with illustrations of mystical objects: a flying carpet, a glowing trident, a smoking mirror ... the pictures went on page after page. However, they saw nothing that looked like the twisted purple shell in front of them. If the shell was in the book, it could take hours—even days—for them to find it.

Chuck looked around at all the books on their display stands. "Hey, Cornelius, why isn't this book on display with the others?"

"This is not a book of facts or culture," Cornelius explained. "This is a book of lore. Legends. Stories. Fairy tales. This book is certainly wonderful for the imagination, but it should only be read for entertainment, not education." He polished his monocle with a feather before putting it back over his eye. "There is no magic, Mister Porter. That's why these objects are called impossible."

Chuck and Dakota fixed their eyes on a page that showed a giant crab guarding a familiar-looking coral crown with rays of light coming from it. Cornelius didn't know that they had actually seen this magical object before. But Chuck and Dakota knew they would never convince him it was real.

"Though I must admit it is quite an odd little thing," Cornelius continued as he gazed at the gleaming shell. "It's almost as though that shell doesn't belong here."

As soon as those words escaped his beak, Cornelius wished he could take them back. Cornelius—like most everyone on the island—believed that nothing of importance existed outside of Bermooda. He didn't want to feed any of Chuck's fantasies about great big worlds beyond the horizon.

"Even so, there must be some natural explanation," he hooted with a harrumph, adjusting his monocle. "Mister Porter, I wonder if you'd let us hold on to that shell here at the museum. It's a very rare find, and we'd love to have it as part of our collection."

Dakota could see that Cornelius was very interested in the shell, almost as interested as Chuck was.

"Sorry, Cornelius," Chuck said. "I kind of have my own collection of rare finds, and it would be awfully incomplete without this. Thanks for your help though. Moohalo."

Chuck and Dakota exited the Hortica Center and started off for home.

"Why are you keeping that thing?" Dakota asked. "Why don't you just leave it at the museum?" He was getting more creeped out by this shell every minute, ever since Cornelius mentioned the word "magic."

"Cornelius knows pretty much everything, and even he can't tell what this is," Chuck said. "So any trinket that's weird enough to stump him is weird enough to go in my collection."

CHAPTER 3

Weird Things


Cornelius may not have been much help with the shell, but he had been right about one thing: Chuck and Dakota were supposed to be home having supper. They got home late, and everyone at the Porters' long supper table looked up at them when they finally arrived halfway through the meal.

Suppertime was a big deal at the Porter House. The house had many extra rooms that Mama and Papa Porter rented out for folks to live in, so their dinner table always had lots of friends and family. Some of them came to the Porter House for only a short while, but there were some who stayed for years.

There were Mama and Papa Porter, of course, along with Chuck's know-it-all little sister, Patty, and his rowdy Uncle Bo. There was also Miss Magnolia, the prim-and-proper heifer; Quincy, the cranky old hedgehog; and Ditto, the loud, squawky parrot, among many others. Chuck and Dakota made their apologies for being late, sat down at the long table, and got to eating. Chuck piled his plate high with Bermooda grass. Dakota carefully chewed on a mouthful of carrots under his cowmouflage mask.

Dakota didn't really like wearing his cowmouflage. He was certainly grateful to have something that allowed him to roam among the cows and call Bermooda his home, but he still hated having to put it on.

For one thing, it was ugly. Chuck had thrown the whole thing together with the objects he had on-hoof when he found Dakota: an old brown blanket, a piece of sponge, a couple of whale's teeth, and some coconut shells. The whole thing was crudely stitched together with vines and twine. The only thing more amazing than how quickly Chuck made the disguise was the fact that no one seemed to realize the dreadful thing was just a costume.

Not only did the cowmouflage look awful, it felt awful too. The blanket that covered Dakota's body was often hot and itchy. The spongy cow nose that masked his face made it hard to see sometimes. And the coconut hooves that covered his hands made him feel very clumsy.

It wasn't just that the cowmouflage was ugly and uncomfortable though. More than that, Dakota really just hated that he had to wear a disguise at all. The Porters were his family now—they were his kine—and he hated having to lie to them. At least three times a week he felt the urge to tear off his cow mask and loudly cry, "Look! See? I'm a hu'man! I'm not a monster! I don't breathe fire or have long, sharp claws! And I'm not going to eat you!" But Chuck insisted that something like that would throw the entire family—and the entire island—into a panic. Hu'mans were supposed to be extinct. Dakota couldn't help but think that everything would be so much easier if he were just a real cow.

"Are you two ready to watch the big surf contest tomorrow?" Papa Porter asked.

"You bet!" Chuck cheered. "Wahu Brahman is going to kick tail!"

Tomorrow would be the Cowabunga Classic, a big surf competition held once a year. Lots of surfcows would be competing, but Wahu Brahman was the heavy favorite to win. In fact, Wahu was always the heavy favorite. He had won the last seven years in a row.

"You know, I bet I get to be as good a surfer as Wahu Brahman someday," Chuck said.

Ditto screeched out a squawky laugh.

Quincy nearly choked on his bite of corn muffin.

Patty spat out the words, "Are you kidding?"

Their reaction was understandable. Chuck had tried surfing three times in his life. The first time, he spent four hours just trying to stand up on the board. The second time, he tumbled off and landed face-first in a school of jellyfish. The third time, he got tossed by a wave that broke the board completely in half.

"First ya gotta learn to stand up there, Chucky!" Uncle Bo laughed, his big belly shaking. "How ya gonna do that with only half a board?"

"That's not at all polite, Bo," Miss Magnolia said curtly. "Everyone makes mistakes."

"I believe it will take a lot of practice, dear," Mama Porter said. "But I'm sure you can do it, if that's what you wish."

"You wish! You wish!" Ditto cawed.

After dinner, Chuck and Dakota retreated to their room, where Dakota peeled out of his cowmouflage almost immediately.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Big Cowhuna by Mike Litwin. Copyright © 2015 Mike Litwin. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

1. The Peaceful Day,
2. The Impossible,
3. Weird Things,
4. Zephyr,
5. A Real Change,
6. Sheldon,
7. Cow-a-Bunga,
8. The Champ,
9. The Real Wahu,
10. The Search Party,
11. Snow Problem,
12. Déjà Moo,

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