CM December 22, 
1995. Vol. II, Number 10-11

image Chester's Barn.

Lindee Climo.
Montreal, Tundra Books: 1982. 32pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-88776-351-0.

Subject Headings:
Domestic animals-Fiction.
Prince Edward Island-Fiction.

Kindergarten - grade 4 / Ages 5 - 9.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


With Gabriel is Bathsheba and her twin lambs. They are only three days old and are still learning to follow their mother and nurse. Before they are allowed to go out with the others, the lambs will have their long skinny tails docked . . . It is too early in the year for grass so Chester will begin to feed them a mixture of grain sweetened with a special molasses when they are two weeks old.

image This is the fourth printing of a beautiful book about the life of farm animals. The reader is attracted initially because of the striking illustrations that depict cows with graceful curves, sheep with soft, round fluffy wool, Clydesdale horses with handsome muscles, and draft horses with outstanding dapples. Chester the farmer is part of the story, but the animals are the protagonists, and Chester is presented as a silohuetted figure.


The gorgeous pictures in rich earth tones would be enough to convince many people to buy this book for their children. It was the winner of the Amelia Frances Howard - Gibbon Award for the best illustrated children's book in 1983. But the story is another reason, and make the book an excellent purchase for young children. Using story form, Climo informs children all about farm life -- the old barns of the early farmers, the different rooms within the barns,and about the life of the farm animals. She describes all aspects of a farm animal's life with great detail, but the information is provided very gently.


The animals are anthropomorphized; they have names and personalities, but reality is never abandoned. They lead animal lives, and the reader is reminded that Chester does not name the animals that he sells for slaughter because he doesn't want to develop any attachments to them. The logic of why the animals are kept in their specific situations is clearly explained, and the reader understands the continual hard work that a farmer must put in to take care of his animals properly.

The text is unusually long for a picture book, but the friendly, warm style of writing is captivating, and a child can inspect the pictures while listening to the story. The description of new life among the animals and the activities that make them happy are things that interest children, and Climo has found the right formula. This is a well deserved reprinting.


Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.

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Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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