Picture Books – On the Farm

cover image Each page of this handsome picture book features an illustration of a farm animal and a short poem featuring that animal. It sounds like a simple setup, and it is. That is part of the beauty of this work, a gentle reflection on farm life.

Many, many, many children’s picture books feature farm animals, despite the fact that the majority of American children have never met any of these creatures outside of the occasional visit to a petting zoo. This book stands out amongst the multitude for several reasons. First and foremost are the illustrations. Farm books often shout to the reader in garish colors: florescent pinks that a pig wouldn’t recognize or brilliantly white sheep that forget that real sheep are walking around in dust all day. The illustrations here, done by Holly Meade are done with woodblocks and watercolors. The pictures are meant to be stylized, rather than realistic, but in some ways that makes them all the more real. The colors are muted and natural. That’s not to say the book isn’t colorful: every page is bursting with many tones and shades; however these are natural colors, rather than artificially bright pigments.

The text is also worthy of note. The poems are delicious little nuggets, ripe for reading. While some of the concepts are as old as farming itself, author David Elliott manages to avoid being overly trite, or – another cardinal sin of picture books – overly twee. Most of the poems rhyme, though not all do.

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