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Growing Seasons Hardcover – June 19, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Splear (1906-1996) used a series of notebooks to record her family's life on the small Illinois farms where she and her three sisters grew up. There is no story line, just a series of windows onto a receding past: text on the first spread, for example, is titled "Kitchen Stove"; other segments are "Mama in the Garden," "Butchering" and "Winter Chores." Splear provides a very clear picture of the work involved in running a farm and the numerous skills required to keep the family clothed and fed. The individuals themselves are less distinct, although every now and then a detail gives some insight into a personality (Pa spends years inventing a power tool; Pa always greets the girls with a smile, even when he's in the middle of a grueling job). First-time illustrator Stark's casein paintings are also better at conveying a general scene than specific characters; his impressionistic style tends to obscure facial expressions and he also prefers to show people in groups, often with their faces turned away from the viewer. Whether he is showing the four girls wading in a creek or men on threshing day, he bathes his nostalgic compositions in a glow of contentment, manifesting an optimistic faith in a well-done day's labor. Ages 5-up. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-6-In this exceptionally well-designed book, life on a Midwestern farm at the turn of the century is exquisitely portrayed through the fond memories of Splear and the paintings of Stark, paired on double-page spreads. Those were the days of no electricity, no running water or indoor plumbing, when teams of horses worked the land and families were self-sufficient. Organized into a series of vignettes, the book begins with recollections of the kitchen stove, which was so central to their family life that, "-whenever we moved to a new house, the stove was the first thing to be taken off the hayrack and set up in the new kitchen." Each story is told in a relaxed, kitchen-table tone, inviting readers to learn more about threshing, wash day, gardening, chores, and Christmas. The subject of butchering is gently described and illustrated: "My sisters and I were unhappy when butchering time came around in the late fall." Stark's evocative paintings are filled with motion, life, and homey details. True to the nostalgic tone of the book, each one is flooded with cheerful sunlight. This would be a welcome addition for most collections, perhaps inspiring young people to have similar conversations with the elders in their own lives.
Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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A great way to teach history in a time of a lot of work and few convinces. Growing up on a farm myself I relate to a lot of the stories in the book.I highly recommend to families and educators.
Leafing through the book caused me to feel very nostalgic, reliving the time when I was a young boy on a small Pennsylvania farm in the late 1930's. Detailed artwork and attention to detail in all the illustrations make a person feel part of the activity being described.
Elsie Lee Splear must be congratulated on her factual portrayal of farm life in the 1900's and her choosing an outstanding artist who's attention to detail produced outstanding illustrations of family farm life in the 1900's.
This book should be read by people of all ages to better understanding what farm life was like in the 1900's.
Can anyone imagine not having an inside toilet and must use the little house out back many times referred to as the "outhouse" with only remnants of an old Sears catalogs which served the need at hand and also provided the patron some reading. Can one believe a life without Charmin?
I highly recommend the younger generations to buy this book, study the wonderful detailed paintings and enjoy reading the descriptions of how it used to be before television. I will always cherish this book and when I need a pick-me-up, I will browse through Growing Seasons and reminisce about the times that were.
The story numerous everyday events: homework by the kitchen stove, homemade dresses for Christmas, perserving meat before refrigeration, cooking for days to feed a threshing crew, and hiding from tornadoes. This is an excellent children's book for learning about farm life in the early 1900's.
Great read for young and old alike!