First published in 1988, Minerva Louise is the story of an inquisitive hen who goes exploring and finds a house with all sorts of interesting things to see. The book speaks to toddlers’ and preschoolers’ natural curiosity about the world around them; they can follow her as she wanders into new situations and sees things from her own unique point of view. In this first Minerva Louise adventure, she explores a farmhouse and sees a perfect nest for her (a fireplace), a comfortable chair (a flowerpot), friendly cows (a sleeping cat), a tractor (a tricycle), and more. She encounters a rubber duck in a bathtub, which she sees as a new friend inviting her to play in a pool, but decides to go play in the yard with her friends instead. The artwork is uncluttered; simple but eye-catching: Ms. Stoeke uses a crayon-like line, drawn onto heavy vellum paper and traced onto watercolor paper, filled in with gouache paints and occasional watercolor washes. She uses large, simple shapes and bold, flat colors inside soft black outlines, against a white background. The plain, black font makes for a good read-aloud book that will keep audiences interested in the pictures.
This would be part of a fun animal read-aloud. For a slightly older audience, I would also suggest an Amelia Bedelia companion story, as Minerva Louise tends to see things with her own unique point of view, similar to Amelia Bedelia. There are many farm animal printables that children can color, and there are many farm animal songs and fingerplays.
The author’s website offers links to more of Ms. Stoeke’s books, her art, and information about school visits. The Minerva Louise series includes A Hat for Minerva Louise; Minerva Louise on Halloween; Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve; A Friend for Minerva Louise; Minerva Louise at the Fair; Minerva Louise and the Red Truck. Minerva Louise won the Dutton Picture Book Contest (1988).