A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that it's hard to say whether this book is fiction or nonfiction. The story is pretend, but realistic detail, both in words and artwork, is what this celebration of life on a family farm is all about.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The story begins with an introduction to the things that make up a farm: the people, buildings, animals, and machinery. Then it moves through the seasons, showing what goes into growing and harvesting a crop of corn as well as how different times of year affect the activity on the farm. The farmer has to wait to till the soil until the weather is just right, things (including the cats) get dusty as the days dry out, life gets as busy as the buzzing bees until the planting is done and things slow down as everyone waits for harvest time. March is muddy, April gets lighter, in May everything grows, June is the sweet month, July is for exploring...and so on. Everyone is involved in this life on the farm that has rhythms, smells, and sounds they can depend on. A glossary at the front defines words specific to farming.
Is it any good?
Most books about farms for kids are cute and simple; this one is different, and quite amazing. It has a depth that is unusual in most picture books as well as a poetic beauty that will especially hit home with anyone who has experienced rural life. For those who have not, it will give a very realistic, multi-dimensional impression of what it would be like to live on a family farm. Not only will the storyline, and the way it is told, hold the interest of young readers, but the artwork will intrigue readers of any age. The author weaves several threads in and out of the story as he shows how the seasons affect the farmer, kids, animals, and crops, how the soil changes, and how the smells and sounds of the farm reflect the different times of year. All of that is absolutely enriched by the artwork. Not only is each illustration as lyrical and detailed as the story, but the variety of ways each is presented on the page makes the book all the more captivating.
Soft, poetically simple but delicately detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations enrich every page of this book as well as the cover, inside and out. And the arrangement of the artwork on the pages varies, which definitely adds another level of interest. Some paintings are full-page spreads illustrating a single line of text, some are small barely painted sketches almost arranged like a comic strip, while others are fully detailed, though small and scattered several to a page. Some pages contain both sketches and half-page spreads. All in all, the variety adds dimension and reflects the complexity of the whole farm life experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about farms. Have you ever lived on, or visited, a farm? How was it like the one in the book? How was it different? What crops did they grow? What did their barns look like? Did they have silos? Or different kinds of machinery?
Younger kids will enjoy counting the number of tractors, silos, and combines, and talking about the different animals on the farm. Why are there so many cats? How about cows, dogs, and roosters? Why do some have names while others do not? What do you think about the names the animals are given? How would you choose their names?
In the beginning this book says there are two farmers on the farm. One is drawn as a man, one as a woman. Are most farmers you know men or women? Why do you think that is?
Do you have any special chores to do around the house? How do you feel about doing them? Which ones are more fun than others?