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This article is about the book. For the event, see The Great Cow Race (event).

The Great Cow Race is the second book of the Bone series. It was first published in black and white by Cartoon Books on March 5, 1996. On August 1, 2005 Scholastic published the book in colour (by Steve Hamaker) and made it available for paperback and hardcover.


Fone Bone and his cousins plan to return home after visiting the village of Barrelhaven with Thorn and Gran'ma Ben. But Phoney risks everything on one last get-rich-quick scheme for the town's annual Great Cow Race. As usual, Phoney's plans go disastrously awry, and Boneville seems farther away than ever.

Meanwhile, ominous signs indicate that a war is brewing, and Fone Bone finds himself helping his friends defend their idyllic valley from a formidable enemy.

Full Synopsis[]

The Spring Fair[]

The book starts off with Fone Bone and Thorn walking around the fair. Thorn wants to go get some honey and they find a honeyseller named Tom. Tom flirts with Thorn, upsetting Fone Bone. Fone Bone lashes out at Tom, acting in a way that Thorn had never seen before. After a few cruel insults from Tom and ruder comebacks from Fone Bone, Thorn (feeling embarrassed) decides to walk around the fair herself. Fone Bone decides to get honey for Thorn from a giant beehive to try to show that she doesn't need a jerk like Tom to get her honey. He finds a gigantic bee defending the hive, who was not affected by the smoke that was supposed to make it fall asleep. In fact, the bee thinks it is a cigar and begins to smoke it. After being stung by the bee, Fone Bone manages to get a giant honeycomb only to find Thorn chatting under a tree with Tom. Meanwhile Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are planning their scam by getting out the word that Gran'ma Ben is to old to win the race. Gran'ma Ben is jogging for her training and notices that people are not betting on her like they normally do and starts feeling down.

The Cave[]

At the betting booth (which Phoney made himself), Phoney Bone convinces Euclid to bet one goat on the Mystery Cow (which is actually Smiley in a costume) instead of three shovels. Fone Bone arrives and questions Phoney about the rat creatures attacking Gran'ma Ben's Farm. Phoney claims he has no idea why they did so but Fone Bone refuses to believe him. Smiley Bone has also arrived and has a unconvincing cow suit. Later at night, Thorn has a dream about her as a young child in the dragon's cave. Right after she wakes up Fone Bone and tells him not to wake the others. She tells Fone Bone that she used to have this dream as a little girl, but it eventually stopped. After Fone Bone showed her the map she started having the dreams again, and she also claims that she drew the map. They decide to tell Gran'ma Ben about all this after this after the race, so she isn't stressed out before the race.

The Mystery Cow[]

Everybody now seems to be betting on the Mystery Cow instead of Gran'ma Ben, but Lucius talks to Wendell, Euclid, Johnathon Oaks, and Rory. They tell him about how that they are betting on the Mystery Cow instead of Gran'ma Ben, however Lucius tells them that Phoney Bone is playing them for a bunch of saps. They then demand that Phoney shows them the cow or they'll take back their livestock and destroy his booth. When they go to see they hear a great deal of noise and racket, and are convinced they there is a monstrous cow inside. They head to the race, sure it will beat Gran'ma Ben. Meanwhile, Fone Bone meets Ted the Bug, who gives him advice on his romance with Thorn. Ted convinces Fone Bone to write love poems for Thorn. While he is making poems, the Two Rat Creatures attack him again, and he runs for his life.

The Great Cow Race[]

Phoney's plan suddenly goes wrong when Lucius bets the Barrelhaven Tavern on Gran'ma Ben to win. Knowing it will take ages to pay off that debt, Phoney lets Smiley know that he has to win but ends up in the cow suit with him. When Gran'ma Ben tries to get a good look at the Mystery Cow, they fall off the ridge they had been running on while trying to avoid her and land in a pack of sleeping Rat Creatures, who awake and begin to chase them. Fone Bone, who has now caught up, runs side by side with a startlingly cheerful Smiley, while Phoney wishes for his death. While they run the cows and Rat Creatures cross each other causing the race to fall into disaster, and Gran'ma Ben wins in the confusion.

Lonely Road[]

Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are now forced to work off their debt by repairing Gran'ma Ben's Farm and working for Lucius at the Barrelhaven Tavern. While in the woods Smiley sees something move in the bushes but Lucius couldn't find anything so Gran'ma Ben tells them to be quiet until they get to the farm. Fone Bone looks around and sees the dragon watching them meaning they're safe. Fone Bone falls asleep. Morning has come and The Two Rat Creatures are now hiding, fearing what their punishment might be for starting a ruckus. Lucius and Gran'ma Ben discuss the situation. After their talk, everybody goes to sleep.

Up on the Roof[]

Lucius and Smiley Bone are reshingling the roof and Lucius gets very angry because of Smiley's low intelligence. Lucius implies that Smiley must have been the village idiot after Smiley suggests replacing the caved-in roof with a glass ceiling so they can have a Jacuzzi. After a while, an enraged Lucius attempts to get Smiley, but accidently slams his hatchet on the rope holding him in place. After about one page of bangs and crashes as Lucius falls off the roof, Smiley says, "It ain't Boneville, but it'll do."


This book contains issues 7-11.

Video Games[]

On April 12, 2006 Telltale Games developed and released Bone: The Great Cow Race, an adventure game for PC platform. Unlike the previous game you get to control Smiley Bone as well with the other two cousins.