________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 14. . . .March 6, 2009


When I Visit the Farm.

Crystal Beshara.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-897550-09-0.

Subject Heading:
Farms-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-Kindergarten / Ages 3-5.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



When I visit the farm
I feel as free as a dandelion seed.
I have all the space in the world
to spread my wings


When I Visit the Farm is the first time award-winning Ottawa artist Crystal Beshara has written the text accompanying her illustrations. As well as gaining a good deal of recognition for her artistic works in Ottawa, Beshara's work appeared in the illustrations of filmmaker David Diorio's story of Rimsky-Korsakov's creation of his classic piece, The Flight of the Bumble Bee.

internal art     Each of the 14 double-paged spreads in When I Visit the Farm depicts an activity engaged in by a young visitor to the farm. The story is told in first person from a four-year-old's point of view. Some details which may perplex the reader occur in the illustrations. Why, for instance, does the young narrator appear in a different dress on every page? In fact, wearing a dress to visit a farm seems a little inappropriate to begin with. Other oddities which appear to older readers include the little girl's backward stance in front of geese (who are notoriously unfriendly), her imaginary sighting of a chipmunk high up in a tree (would she not be more likely to see it from ground level?) and the old hen that appears to have a rooster's head transposed onto her body when we first meet her.

     These anomalies aside, When I Visit the Farm certainly does live up to the publisher's claim that it is a beautiful picture book with warm, sunny illustrations. The artist's bright, beautifully detailed paintings are definitely appealing to the eye.

      When I Visit the Farm is a book for very young listeners with limited attention spans, whose willingness to sit and listen to a picture book is determined by their enjoyment of its illustrations. Essentially Beshara's work is a gallery of lovely paintings with a text limited in length (155 words) and story interest. It would be a possible purchase for day care or preschool centers, but it lacks a sufficiently wide age-range appeal for school libraries.

Recommended with reservations.

Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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