Title: Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family’s Farm
Author: Michael J.Rosen
Genre: Nonfiction: juvenile; nature
Rating: *** 1/2
Told through the voices of the children, this inside view of life on their farm is authentic and sometimes surprising. Readers will learn about baling hay, tending cattle, work dogs, hunting, manure, and other activities on the Bennett farm, as well as some insights into the culture of living in a rural area (from Goodreads).
Thoughts: This was such a cute little book! I found this book quite by accident late last week at work, while sorting books to shelf at one of the libraries where I work. This is a book for children, around the upper elementary level, I think. It follows the Bennett family and life on their farm through the entire 2008 year. The Bennett’s, who consist of Mom and Dad, 17 year-old Caleb, 15 year-old Chase, Cayne, 10, Grey, 8, and 4 year-old Ali, own a 150 acre farm in a rural Ohio county. The father, Dave, is also the co-owner of the county’s largest hardware and plumbing business. The family raises cattle and chickens, go raccoon and deer hunting, dig a new fish pond, make hay, harvests grapes and make jam, and do a host of other activities as we follow them throughout the year on their farm.
This book first caught my attention because of the pictures; as this is a book for younger children, each page consists some really cool full colored pictures taken at the farm– new-born calves, the kids’ tree house, the new pond being dug. The pictures were really what made me decide to take the book off the cart and put it aside for myself. But when I started to read it later, I realized that the book has a pretty cool structure: Its is divided into sections by the seasons, starting with winter, and each two pages or so is dedicated to a particular topic, along with accompanying pictures. But was really nice about this book, I thought, was that the books consists entirely of quotes from the family. The various family members get a paragraph or two to tell us about their chickens or their garden or whatever. Rosen only speaks in the introduction and in the conclusion. I thought this was a really nice way of inserting us into the family’s life. And also it gave us some gems from the kids themselves, such as when four-year old Ali says that “The best thing about having four brothers is nothing” and “My favorite thing is that I can dirty clothes on the farm.”
While I thought this was as quick, enjoyable read, and I really enjoyed the pictures, I confess I was surprised as to how much this book got me thinking. Perhaps is was because the kids did most of the talking in this book themselves, but it made me think about what kind of childhood I want my own kids to have when I have them (hopefully not for a good long while). I don’t necessarily think that I would want my kids to grow up experiencing working 13 and a half hours on the weekends to get the hay in like the older Bennett boys, but other things the children do- yes. I grew up in a small town and now live in the country. It may just be my opinion based on my upbringing, but I believe that being outdoors and exploring is beneficial and can be very enriching for children. And its fun! Some of the things the Bennett children do- hunting in the woods for morels in the spring, picking wild blackberries, climbing trees, and sledding in the winter- are things that I think I would want my future children to experience. So, all in all, this was a nice, quick little book that made me think as well!
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