________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002

cover Farm Year.

Monika Popp. Additional illustrations by Regine Frick-von Schmuck.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2002.
48 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 0-88899-452-4.

Subject Heading:
Farm life-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

** /4



The little calf was put in a crowded pen. A man placed a white card with a number on each calf. If the calf was a female, he drew a line under the number. But he forgot to do that for the brown-and-white calf, so she was put with a group of young bull calves by mistake.

There were many farmers in the auction hall, including Victor from Big Bear Farm, and his ten-year-old son, Jan. They had a lot of good hay this year - more than their beef cattle could eat over the coming winter. They were looking for some half-grown steers to add to their herd, but so far they hadn't seen any.

This story takes the reader on a quick journey through a year of life on a farm. Farm Year begins with a small Holstein dairy calf being accidentally mislabeled at a cattle auction. This error results in the dairy calf's being mistaken for a bull calf, and she is purchased by Jan and his father. They take the young calf home to Big Bear Farm. Anna becomes sick and almost dies but eventually becomes Jan's favorite. This is basically all of the action in this story. The author then proceeds to describe farm chores and each season's toll on farm life. At the end of the story, the author comments that Anna became the start of a Holstein dynasty on Big Bear Farm by producing her first of many calves.

     There is no excitement or adventure in this story. Without much of a storyline, readers may quickly become bored. The choice of a few unnecessarily difficult words like "The little calf cried piteously" is another reason I wouldn't recommend this book to new readers. Also much of the dialogue seems awkward. Farm Year is a longer picture book without much read aloud appeal. I would almost consider this a chapter book in a picture book format. Although this format is a necessary bridge for many readers from picture books to chapter books, often these books are difficult to classify. If shelved with picture books, they are not found by budding independent readers, and, if they are shelved with chapter books, older readers wonder why "baby" books are on their shelves. I found the pencil crayon illustrations lacking, but they may be enough to maintain a reader's interest in the story. Although the illustrations are detailed, they are a bit bland partly as result of the choice of medium. Some illustrations are better than others.

     Libraries located in farming areas may want to purchase Farm Year. As well, children with an interest in farm life might enjoy this book as an independent read. I am certain there are better choices for books on this theme.

Recommended with reservations.

As the result of an exciting move Catherine Hoyt is now the Reference Librarian at the Nunavut Legislative Library in Iqaluit, Nunavut. However, she enjoys volunteering at the local public library in the newest capital in Canada.

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

Copyright 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