From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—A husband and wife and their two children live on a farm. The heavily illustrated narrative, which begins in March and ends in November, describes how each season brings different sights, smells, and activities. Using a variety of machinery, the farmers prepare for planting, harvesting, and storing crops of feed corn. The children are involved in growing and maintaining a smaller garden of vegetables and feeding the cows and chickens. As the weather becomes warmer, there is time to relax on a tire swing or fish in a creek, but the family will have to make trips into town for supplies and business transactions. While they have plenty to eat, young readers will glimpse some of the hardships of their life. Weather can delay a farmer's plans and nearby wildlife means danger for some of the barnyard animals. The watercolor and pencil artwork, highlighting the open skies and vast prairie fields, complements the text and changes from browns to greens as the temperature rises and falls. Although the text is too long for a read-aloud, and the small images are best appreciated one-on-one, Cooper's book will give children a comprehensive view of farm life, both visually and textually.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada
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Most picture books about farms tend to be slapstick animal adventures rather than realistic views of daily life. Cooper’s latest fills that gap with a quiet, atmospheric portrait of a farm through the seasons. Working in his signature style of loosely rendered figures and simple compositions in pencil and watercolor, Cooper combines beautiful, expansive views of a farm seen from a distance under an endless sky with small, individual images, such as the farm’s cats, which younger children will want to point to and count. Like the pictures, the words move from large landscapes to small details. In a spread about May, for example, descriptions of the vast fields that look like “an ocean of green” mix with lines about the butterflies and bees that zoom through the garden. Filled with sensory details, the brief text has a poetic, stripped-down simplicity that matches the stark images and will read aloud well. Cameo appearances of the farm’s animals and children will help hold young people’s attention throughout this subtle, handsome view of modern, rural life. Preschool-Grade 3. --Gillian Engberg