August Book Buzz Picks - The Missourian: Newspapers In Education

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Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 2:09 pm | Updated: 9:19 am, Thu Aug 9, 2012.

’Round about August, it’s fitting to feature “Back on the Farm” books. With county fairs and farmers’ markets displaying polished produce and hearty animals that are blue-ribbon worthy, our thoughts turn to wide-open acres planted with corn, soybeans and oats. This month Newsbee has three uplifting rural picks to suggest that celebrate the farming life. Sure they’ll produce noteworthy reviews and plenty of reading pleasure too.

‘Grandpa’s Tractor,’

By Michael Garland.

In “Grandpa’s Tractor,” Timmy and Grandpa Joe take a road trip to his old home place, and happen upon an abandoned tractor that provides a springboard for memories in this charming book by Michael Garland.

Arriving at the farm takes Timmy for a turn. There’s nothing there but a ramshackle house and dilapidated barn. But wait. Behind the barn is a weed-covered, rusty tractor that once served the family well.

Soon Grandpa’s reeling off tales about his growing-up years. He recalls sitting on his father’s lap as the tractor putted along, plowing the fields.

No matter the season, the big red shiny tractor came through, pulling hay at harvest time, wagons full of apples and produce down the road. In the winter and at Christmas too, the tractor provided fun times and work ease, and stories that could be passed down from one generation to the next.

For this, little Jimmy is thankful. And for the chance to spend the day with his granddad.

‘It’s Milking Time,’

By Phyllis Alsdurf

From farm to table — Newsbee guarantees you’ll never take milk for granted again after you read “It’s Milking Time,” by Phyllis Alsdurf. This marvelous book with life-like illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher, tells the simple story of a dad and daughter sharing a chore that doesn’t seem like a chore at all.

“Every morning, every night, it’s milking time,” is a little girl’s refrain, as she helps her father tend and milk their herd. A parade of Holsteins plods up from the field, “impatient and hungry,” just waiting to be fastened in their stanchions and “hooked up to a milker.”

The girl knows them all by name — Alphie, Bertha, Cassie and more, but her favorites are the calves, adorable black and white creatures with wide eyes and soft coats. There’s milk for them to drink too, offered out of a pail, and some for the farm family to enjoy at breakfast with pancakes. The rest of the milk is carted away in a big truck, off to a dairy to be pasteurized or to be made into cheese and butter. Yum.

Milk likes you, and you’re sure to like “It’s Milking Time.”

‘Prairie Evers,’

By Ellen Airgood

A 10-year-old homeschooler has adjustments to make when her family inherits a farm and moves to upstate New York. “Prairie Evers,” a novel by Ellen Airgood, addresses the stress in being uprooted, of saying goodbye to an old life and hello to new friends and interests.

Prairie isn’t crazy about having to move, but at least she’s got her grandma along to cushion the blow. An only child, Prairie regards her granny as her teacher and best friend. All that changes when Grandma returns to North Carolina because she misses her lifelong home.

The loss throws Prairie into a tailspin, and she seeks comfort in a secret place, a rundown chicken house outside her bedroom window. Soon Prairie talks her parents into letting her raise chickens.

This hobby is soon followed by a new friend, one she meets when her parents decide it’s time for Prairie to enroll in classes at the local school. That doesn’t sit well at first, but Prairie adjusts again, and turns out to be the very best thing that’s ever happened to her buddy Ivy.

There’s plenty of pluck, cluck and luck in this gratifying first book by Airgood.

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