CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 33. . . .April 26, 2013
After a brief Introduction to the idea of small family farms, the four chapters in Down to Earth: How Kids Help Feed the World are packed with information about the many types of food grown and how domestic animals are raised around the world. Chapter One, “Seeds and Plants”, talks about sizes and varieties of seeds, what staple foods are grown in different countries, and the cost of organic crops. The second chapter deals with “Feathered Friends” that provide eggs and meat, with a close-up on how chickens are raised. Chapter Three focuses on “Multi-Purpose Animals”, such as goats, pigs, cattle and sheep. The last chapter, “At Work on the Farm”, discusses various animals that contribute to a farm, e.g. dogs, guardian geese, water buffalo, elephants…even worms and bees. In each chapter, one aspect of the author’s own small farm is highlighted: strawberries grown on a rack to save space, unusual features of turkeys, Muscovy ducks that eat garden pests. The book is lavishly illustrated with good quality photos showing farm activities worldwide.
The subtitle of this book is “How Kids Help Feed the World.” The opening sentence states: “On family farms around the world, children help grow food” and the Introduction promises the book will “explore … ways children help collect seeds, weed gardens, milk goats, herd ducks and more as they grow, harvest, prepare and distribute food.” The expected focus on the role of children is found mainly in the photos and captions (e.g. “Children are often responsible for feeding the chickens and collecting eggs”). A good portion of the photos show children involved with food handling or tending to animals. Kids are only occasionally mentioned in the main text, though, such as on the page about 4-H projects. The language is straightforward and the facts easy to find in other resources, e.g. uses for corn and soybeans, how many piglets are usually born in a litter. The most interesting parts that spotlight children, however, are the inserts about the author’s farm, Dark Creek Farm. In most of these, readers learn more personally engaging and specific information about aspects of food production which would favor roles for kids and which young readers could identify with. I wished for more of this.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.
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