Homage to Oprah Backfires as Children’s Author Replaces Letterman on Daytime Diva’s “Naughty List” (There Ain’t No Cow Named “Uma”)

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Re-christening of cow in book threatens to put Christmas book author out to pasture.

It started out as a way to honor Oprah Winfrey as a positive role model for young girls. But the move may put the author of a popular Christmas book about flying cows, well, out to pasture.

“Mr. Gonopolis And His 12 Holsteins – A Christmas Story” is about a farmer and his 12 cows filling in for Santa Claus and his reindeer. Instead of “Dasher and Dancer,” the sleigh is pulled by the likes of “Bessie and Bossie.” That’s where the trouble begins. In the newest edition the author changed the name of wheel cow from “Tova” to “Oprah.”

“Those of us in farm country love our animals, and to bestow someone’s name on one is a great sign of respect,” said Uncle Hyggly, the pseudonym for rural humorist Charles Smith-Dewey. “As the father of two daughters, Oprah inspires me -- she is a great role model for my girls, teaching them they can grow up to be anything ... do anything.”

That also aligns with the message of his book, where a portly old dairy farmer gets the chance to fill in for the man in red. He completes Santa’s rounds, but instead of bringing the toys the children were expecting, he gives out pieces of farm implements and Christmas stockings plumb full of barley -- a grain raised on farms in the Midwest. But it all works out right when Santa assures him that its the act of giving, not the gifts themselves, that show children they are loved.

Hyggly said that many of the cows in the book were lovingly named after the wives of neighboring farmers, or other friends. “I never thought about how this custom might play in the big city,” he said.

Hyggly says the decision was made last Spring -- months before he herd (sic) about the Oprah-Letterman spat. It was after that that some of what he called his “city friends” questioned how the iconic daytime diva might view the homage.

“I never even thought of it as humorous,” Hyggly whimpered. “But if it was taken that way, hey -- Oprah’s GOT to have a sense of humor ... after all, her name spelled backwards is ‘Harpo’, and Harpo was one of the Marx Brothers. The flaw in my logic, however, was in forgetting that there was also a Marx Brother named ‘Groucho’.”

When asked if he has any proof that Oprah is even aware of the book or indeed upset about it -- or if he was simply milking the Oprah-Letterman drama to drum up interest in his book -- Hyggly stumbled around “Well, you don’t see my book on Oprah’s Book Club list, do you? I mean, I don’t have characters with bees coming out of their mouths like that one on her list that was made into a movie (“Beloved”) but I do have 12 cows rescued from drowning in the Atlantic by a gaggle of heroic barn flies so it seems like her kind of book. The fact that its NOT on her book club list speaks volumes.”

Hyggly says he is sending Oprah a complimentary copy of his book and audio CD as an olive branch, with a special inscription in the book. The opening stanza of his apology will read:

"Oprah, divine,

Be my, bovine."

“Mr. Gonopolis And His 12 Holsteins – A Christmas Story” is available in both book and audio CD formats online at http://www.woundedcoot.com and Amazon.com, while supplies last, or until he is "chewed up and spit out like so much silage by Oprah’s lawyers," Hyggly said.


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