Newsbee takes his cue from Old MacDonald this month by suggesting some awesome rural reads for hayseeds in Buzzville. Your bee buddy is blowing his horn about his “Down on the Farm” theme — thumb’s up books for August. Don’t be sheepish, read one of his picks and send your review to the hive. To sweeten the pot the Washington Optimist Club presents a prize book to the students whose reviews appear in “The Missourian.” Page on!

‘Ragweed’s Farm Dog Book’

By Anne Vittur Kennedy

Meet Ragweed, a hound of uncertain breed with a passion for learning. In “Ragweed’s Farm Dog Book,” by Anne Vittur Kennedy, the pooch spells out tips for becoming a stellar farm dog feller.

With hair that sticks out like straw on steroids, Ragweed instructs, assuring other dogs that if they follow his advice they’ll capture their farmer’s heart.

Ragweed puts a personal spin on messing with a rooster, avoiding a mud bath with the pigs, steering clear of nest-sitting with the hens, and turning a deaf ear to the sheep. None of these tasks are a dog’s responsibility and avoiding them will earn dogs a biscuit, and Ragweed’s all about that.

There are haystacks of hilarity in this tongue-in-cheek charmer that’s more about laughter than lessons. Readers will love Ragweed’s agricultural tour and the zany illustrations of a pup with an expressive face and boundless energy.

‘John Deere, That’s Who’

By Tracy Nelson Maurer

A smart cookie hits pay dirt when he invents a new version of an old-fashioned plow in “John Deere, That’s Who,” by Tracy Nelson Maurer.

Way back when, folks used the same type of plow they’d been using forever. It was “less than perfect. But it worked.” That was until a young blacksmith, a bit down on his luck, got creative and put his brain pedal to the metal.

The man’s name was John Deere, “that’s who,” and his ingenuity forever changed the way farmers plow their fields but not without him suffering some hardships first, disasters that sent him west with other pioneers in 1836.

Deere put down roots in Illinois where he had plenty of plows to repair because they’d get torn up on the prairie’s “twisted roots,” and caught up in the “thick, rich soil.” The farmers complained and were “tuckered out.”

Necessity turned out to be the mother of invention — Deere came up with a new version of the plow that changed farming, and “a nation forever.”

With Thomas Hart Benton-like illustrations by Tim Zeltner, this inspiring story is a delight and educational to boot.


By Sharon Creech

A difficult old lady and an unpredictable cow — you’ll meet them both in “Moo,” a novel in verse and free form, by Sharon Creech.

Mrs. Falala lives in a “tilted” house on the edge of town in rural Maine, not far from 12-year-old Reena and her brother, Luke, age 7. The siblings recently arrived in the area because their parents lost their jobs at a big city newspaper.

Reena and Luke become interested in the Belted Galloway cows they see on a neighboring farm, black except for a swath of white around their middle. They meet a cantankerous cow named Zora when they go along with their dad to Mrs. Falala’s. Soon their parents suggest the children help the Mrs. with her chores, including caring for Zora, and mucking out the barn.

Mrs. Falala, an aged Italian, is frank and rude to the children, but gradually they develop a friendship in which their talents and wisdom are shared. With help from Mrs. Falala and some local farm boys, Reena even learns tips for showing Zora at a fair.

With spare words this lovely tale plays out, the indelible Creech delivering a feel good story about perseverance, kindness and going the extra mile for others, even though they might not seem worth the effort at first.