It’s a contemplative story, much like the mood fall ushers in; “The Hundred-Year Barn” by Patricia MacLachlan relates the seasons of life for a stalwart structure that means the world to a family — a barn built “in a meadow” in 1919, townspeople working on its shared construction.
The narrator of this down-home tale, adorned with illustrations by Kenard Pak that reflect the shades of autumn, is 5-year-old Jack, holding his mother’s hand as the pair watch the land being cleared for the barn’s stone foundation.
During the barn building, Jack’s father loses his wedding ring, “ . . . a plain gold band.” Jack finds it and puts it in his pocket but the pocket has a hole and the ring slips through. Everyone searches, but to no avail, Jack’s grandmother tells her husband, “We’re still married.” To which he replies, “Now I’m married to the barn, too . . . ”
Year after year, the barn stands, a shelter for owls, farm animals, and a cherished place for celebrations. As it ages, shingles are replaced, and new coats of red paint are applied, memories within its walls mount as cousins gather to tell scary stories and play games.
“The Hundred Years” Barn” is dedicated to McLachlan’s German grandparents who left Russia, landing at Ellis Island and going to the North Dakota prairie. It’s a lovely story with a surprise that brings this tale of Americana full circle. Preschool-third grade.