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*I Grew Up on a Farm* by Alan K. Lewis, illustrated by Bob Fletcher


I Grew Up on a Farm
by Alan K. Lewis, illustrated by Bob Fletcher
Ages 4-8 32 pages Moo Press December 2005 Hardcover    

I Grew Up on a Farm tells the story of Alan Lewis's childhood growing up on a poultry farm. Written for preschoolers and kindergarteners, the book uses small sentences and simple words. However, none of that detracts from a story well-told of a day in the life of a boy on a farm.

Since the day spans the events of an entire year, the reader gets a clear view into lazy summers and busy school semesters, large family meals al fresco and cozy book readings, newborn animals in the springtime and equine daytrips in the fall, hayrides and sled rides. The pages are filled with the childhood adventures of Lewis, his brother, and his cousins: campouts in the fields, scaring girls with snakes and ghost stories, riding ponies and tractors, making snowmen, playing with pet squirrels and dogs, fishing, and catching frogs.

However, for Lewis all the fun always came after morning chores, school, homework assignments, and afternoon chores were all done. This is the essence of rural life. Living on a farm meant responsibilities even for the youngest in the family: collecting eggs from pecking chickens, hauling heavy pails of slop for the pigs, feeding smaller farm animals and pets, and tending the vegetable gardens.

And yet, despite the hard work put in by Lewis's parents from sunup to sundown, they always made time for their two sons: "Dad used to say that the best things he grew on his farm were his kids."

Most picture books for children come with a single illustrative style. Here, Bob Fletcher uses a juxtaposition of hand-drawn color illustrations, antiqued black-and-white photographs, newspaper clippings, and line drawings, making for a vivid book design.

Lewis tells his story well, but it is Fletcher's artwork that gives the reader images to hold on to and, just perhaps, to imagine and dream about living on the farm with the mischievous Lewis.

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