its milking time

It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

This picture book looks at milking time on a modern dairy farm.  A little girl works alongside her father.  She helps to bring the cows in from the field and then into the barn.  She scoops feed into their stalls and helps get the milkers ready.  Then she opens the big barn doors and the cows enter the barn and line up in their stanchions.  The little girl goes around and locks them.  Milking starts, and there are quiet moments to look out at the growing corn, but then milk is ready to be carried to the milk house, a pitcher filled for the family.  Then the calves must be fed, the manure shoveled, and finally the two walk up to the house in the twilight.

Told with great detail and a loving tone, this story shines with love for the heartland and dairy farms.  While the farm is clearly modern, there is a great timelessness to the story with the interaction of farmer and cows, the buckets of milk, and even the pitcher of milk for home use.  Alsdurf uses a refrain throughout the book, “Every morning, every night, it’s milking time.”   That repetition works well, reminding readers that this same activity happens over and over again on a farm.

The illustrations add to that feeling of timelessness.  They are done in soft colors with late afternoon light flowing golden over the images.  They also have soft edges, like favorite jeans that have been washed many times.  They are pure comfort.

For librarians in Wisconsin, this book is a natural fit.   It’s good to see a farm setting that is not historical but keeps that pastoral feel.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.