Tag: farms

Review: Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman

Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman

Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Chris Sheban

When an old farm dog walks up to a farm looking for work, the farmer refuses. He sees dogs as a waste of food since they don’t give anything back like chickens or cows do. The dog then offers to be a cow instead of a dog. He gets all of the cows into the barn and lined up ready for milking before the farmer gets there, but the farmer isn’t interested in this dog-cow. The next thing the dog tries is to be a horse. He couldn’t fit in the harness for the plow, but he could run ahead of the horse with treats to get the horse to plow faster. Still, the farmer was not interested in hiring the dog. The dog next tries to be a chicken and tidies up the chicken coop before settling down in a nest of hay himself. It’s there that he finally proves the value of a dog on a farm to the reluctant farmer.

Bateman nicely incorporates a rhythm and repetition into her story. The pattern of the conversation between the dog and the farmer carries through the entire book, creating a framework that functions very nicely. On each job, the dog manages to be useful in his own way, something that is a nice surprise in the book rather than him trying to give milk or eggs himself. One immediately roots for the success of this hard-working dog.

Sheban’s illustrations are done in watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil. The result is a picture book that glows with sunlight. There is a wonderful softness to the illustrations, gauzy light that plays across the farm and the characters.

A shining picture book about resilience and being yourself. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.

Review: In, Over and On the Farm by Ethan Long

In Over and On the Farm by Ethan Long

In, Over and On the Farm by Ethan Long

Following his Geisel Award-winning Up, Tall and High, Long returns to prepositions. Four animals friends have adventures on the farm in this easy reader. Broken into three short stories, each story focuses on one pair of prepositions. Chicken can’t get in the coop, so she is left out in the rain, until she realizes that everyone else is warm and dry in there, so she orders them to get out. In the next story, Chicken can’t get over the fence or go under it either. Luckily Cow has another solution for her, go around! In the last story, Pig is on the tractor and Cow and Goat join him there. When they are all on the tractor though, it starts to roll away and soon they are all thrown off. But they want to go on it again.

Long is a very prolific author and excels at creating books for beginning readers which are a winning mix of humor and simplicity. It also helps that he is a natural storyteller and so his short stories in the book have the feel of being complete tales despite their brevity. His characters are also universal, in their group and individual dynamics. The book is entirely relatable by children and will be enjoyed in classrooms looking at prepositions as well as by individual readers.

Long’s illustrations are funny and filled with a cartoon appeal. The colors are candy-bright and even gray rainy days are tinged in lavender. The incorporation of a few flaps to lift is also very appealing for young readers who will enjoy that the twist for each story is revealed in a physical way.

Silly and very easy to read, these stories have massive appeal. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Review: Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy (InfoSoup)

Ragweed is an experience farm dog and he is willing to offer the reader his advice on how to be the best farm dog. First thing to know is not to wake the farmer in the early morning. That is the rooster’s job. Of course, if you do happen to wake the farmer, you would get a biscuit when been thrown out of the house. Pigs can be tricky too. It is not your job to roll in the mud, that is the pigs’ job. In fact, if you do get muddy you end up getting a bath, which is not fun. Of course, there is the biscuit you get afterwards. Ragweed has advice on chickens, sheep, and cows. Each time he offers firm advice, proceeds to ignore it himself and then manages to earn a treat along the way. Readers will get the humor immediately and will love this scrappy little dog who always manages to work everything out to his own advantage: biscuits!

Kennedy writes a clever take on a handbook here. There are other books that have unreliable lead characters who then do the opposite of what they are saying, but the addition of the treats to the equation makes this book all the more fun. The writing is wonderfully conversational and loose. It uses the voice of Ragweed to tell the story, offering an eager and bouncy tone that suits the book perfectly.

Kennedy’s art is bright and sunny. Ragweed pops on the page against the green grass of the farm. His tail almost seems to wag on the page and his eagerness and joy shine. His energy carries through all of the art, from the cows who look at him very skeptically (and with reason) to the panicked sheep to the dazed hens.

This wild romp of a book will be embraced as a read-aloud for farm and dog stories. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten

Chooky Doodle Doo by Jan Whiten

Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten, illustrated by Sinead Hanley (InfoSoup)

A fresh little counting book, this Australian import combines numbers with a jaunty rhyme. One little “chooky” chick is unable to pull a big worm out of the ground, so another chick tries to help. Three of them pull and pull then, and the worm just grows longer and longer. Eventually there are six chicks pulling and not able to get the worm out of the ground. Rooster joins them and helps to pull. They pull and pull, bracing themselves on the ground, until pop! The worm lets go and gives them all a big surprise.

Each page asks “What should chookies do?” and leads into the page turn where another chick has joined in helping. The next page then starts with the number of chicks pulling, making the counting element very clear for young readers. The text is simple and has a great rhythm to it. This picture book could easily be turned into a play for preschoolers to act out, since the actions are simple. The reveal at the end is very satisfying and make sure you look at the very final pages to see the smiling worm still happily in the dirt.

The illustrations are done in collage, both by hand and digital. The textures of the papers chosen for the collage offer a feeling of printmaking too, an organic style that works well with the subject matter. The chicks have huge eyes and are large on the page, making counting easy for the youngest listeners. The bright colors add to the appeal.

A great toddler read aloud for units on farms, this picture book will worm its way right into your heart. Appropriate for ages 2-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

unusual chickens for the exceptional poultry farmer

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath (InfoSoup)

Released May 12, 2015.

Sophie has just moved to a farm they inherited from her great-uncle. Sophie’s father hunts for a job while her mother shuts herself in a room to write articles in order to pay the bills. Sophie’s father also works on the farm, trying to figure out how to care for the grapes and how to start the tractor. Sophie discovers a flyer in the barn about exceptional chickens from Redwood Farm Supply. She wants to start raising chickens herself and starts to write letters not only to Redwood Farm Supply, but to her dead Great-Uncle Jim and her deceased Abuelita. Soon Sophie discovers a small house on the farm and then a little white chicken with a grumpy attitude appears. Sophie has a chicken of her own! But a lady shows up and wants to steal the chicken just as Sophie is realizing that this is definitely one of those “exceptional” chickens from Redwood Farm Supply. It is up to Sophie to keep her chicken safe from the chicken thief and also discover what happened to the rest of her great-uncle’s flock of amazing birds.

Jones has inventively mixed magical realism with farming and chickens in this children’s novel. Sophie mentions several times in the book that there are not many other brown-skinned people around their new home. Then her letters to her Abuelita show her own Hispanic heritage in a way that is natural and organic. The book is rich with the wonder of figuring out how to care for all chickens, but it also tingles with the mystery of Redwood Farm Supply, who Agnes actually is, and why she can’t type well at all. Then when the amazing chickens arrive in the story, it’s a treat to see each breed of bird explained but also how their natural traits are heightened into super powers.

Sophie is a great main character. She’s a girl who is not afraid of the hard and dirty work of a farm and caring for chickens. She is lonely and isolated in their new home, partly due to her absent but also helicopter parents who over protect her. While there is plenty of magic in the book, the story also has down-to-earth elements that keep it grounded, including the slow process of making new friends, the pressures of a family low on money, and the satisfaction of hard work paying off.

A delightful mix of magical chickens and farm life, this book will appeal to fantasy readers but also to kids wanting more realistic fiction too. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Knopf Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Review: Blue on Blue by Dianne White

blue on blue

Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes

On a family farm, the day starts out with bright sunshine and laundry drying on the line.  Soon though, clouds move in and the weather changes, becoming colder.  The rain starts to fall and it falls for a long time, combined with thunder and lightning.  When the rain slows, the dogs and the little girl head outside, discovering along with the pigs the joy of muddy play in the sunshine.  Sun sets and baths are given.  The night ends with the sparkle of stars in the night sky and everyone tucked into bed except for the whales jumping in the moonlight.

Told in very simple poetry, this picture book shines and shimmers on the page.  White’s poem captures the wildness of a summer storm, the feeling of the endlessness of the rain, and then the slow return to sunshine and warmth.  In particular, she creates that sense of impending storm beforehand as well as the slow pitter patter of the drops as they slow and then end.  Her poetry is complete accessible for even the smallest of children who will enjoy the repetition and the farm setting with all of the animals.

Krommes is a Caldecott-award winning illustrator.  Her scatchboard and watercolor illustrations are incredibly detailed and marvelously textured.  She creates a sense of place so clearly here, with the little house perched on the edge of the water, the whales jumping, and the farm.  Her detailed art plays homage to the simple things in the life, the cat on the other side of the screen door, a jumprope over a bedpost, abandoned umbrellas, and mud. 

This book is a joy and is a perfect springtime or summertime read when the big storms are blowing through.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

Review: Big Bug by Henry Cole

big bug

Big Bug by Henry Cole

Start with a close up of a ladybug in this picture book and then everything is put into perspective.  If you step back, the big bug on the first pages is not so big compared to the big leaf it is sitting on.  That leaf turns small when seen as just a part of a flower.  Then a big dog appears only to be dwarfed by the big cow on the next page.  This continues until the reader is looking at the big sky.  Then the book reverses and the perspective gets closer and tighter, returning in the end to that same dog now sleeping inside. 

This is a very simple book that is superbly done.  Cole plays nicely with perspective and with concepts.  The book can easily be used as a way to show the differences between big and small, but I think the real treat is showing children that perspective is important and understanding size is too.  With only a couple of words on each page, the book is imminently readable, especially by a child just starting to read on their own.

Cole’s art is clear and lovely.  The perspective changes are done vividly and the page where you linger with the big big sky for a moment is particularly lovely with its little farm and little tree.  It also serves as a very clear pivot point in the book thanks to the design of the page. 

Show this one to art teachers, preschool teachers, and kids who enjoy a huge insect.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Little Simon.