Books by Cris Peterson

POPCORN COUNTRY by Cris Peterson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 16, 2019

"Solid information and much food for thought. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
The subtitle says it all. Read full book review >
ADVENTURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

The history of colonial-era North America is usually presented to children in terms of settlement—think Jamestown and Plymouth—but this treatment too often ignores the fascinating development and expansion of the fur trade that drove much of the European interest in the continent. Three centuries' worth of explorers followed Columbus in search of a Northwest Passage to the riches of the Orient; they (finally) found the Pacific and also, more importantly, a treasure trove of beaver pelts along the way. Peterson first provides a history of the military, political and economic development of the trade and then gives readers a snapshot of the lives of the Indians and voyageurs who did the actual work. She relies on a wealth of primary-source material, from archival illustrations to quotes from players both large and small. Sidebars (some oddly placed—"Beavers" appears halfway through) provide additional information on specific topics. The author's enthusiasm for her subject will communicate itself to readers, even those who never dreamed they'd be interested, making this the best kind of discovery. (time line, notes, bibliography, suggested reading, places to visit, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)Read full book review >
CLARABELLE by Cris Peterson
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

Here's a Holstein who makes a fetching subject for Lundquist's camera, though this easy-reading portrait of a dairy farm's "four-footed factory" leaves the boundary between fact and invention a little vague. Never explaining why Clarabelle has a name when her 1,200 herdmates evidently don't, the author joins her as she gives birth (offstage), then disappears while her calf—seen in an obviously posed shot—is fed "first milk" from a bottle by two farm lads. Off she trundles to the milking center, and afterward back to the manger, where she stands on bedding made from her own processed dung and feeds on a mix of silage that may be "tossed like a garden salad," but certainly doesn't look like one. Along with tallying the many products made from Clarabelle's milk and manure (methane from the latter even powers an electrical generator) and explaining with tantalizing brevity how a few of them are made, Peterson introduces some members of the farm's owning family. Younger readers may get a clearer picture of how a dairy farm works from Gail Gibbons's The Milk Makers (1985) or Aliki's Milk from Cow to Carton (1992), but this provides a more personal view of the enterprise. (Nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

This is the delightful story of a middle-sized, Midwestern farm in Wisconsin as told in the first-person narration of Gary Peterson, husband of the author. In the family for five generations, this dairy farm has been lived on and worked for the last 25 years by the Petersons and their three children, who are now grown. Full-color photographs by Upitis, as well as sepia-colored photos from the family album, show life on the farm for 100 years. Peterson says, "Much has changed in one hundred years, but many things have stayed the same." It's a distinctly personal story; the author makes no attempt to broaden the discussion, but readers will come away with an appreciation for the hard work that goes into the dairy farm, the continuity brought by five generations, and, in a scene of new construction, a genuine sense of the future of this lovely spot. (Nonfiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
HORSEPOWER by Cris Peterson
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

A photo-essay that shows the largest equine breeds— Percherons, Belgians, and Clydesdales—in actual working situations and as participants in an exhibition. Fascinating nuggets of draft-horse lore are embedded in the simple text: A century ago there were 27 million such horses at work in America; Percherons are descended from the huge medieval warhorses that carried armored knights; one horsepower is accessibly defined as the amount of force necessary to raise a weight of 150 pounds from a hole 220 feet deep in one minute (although that definition is buried in a note on the copyright page). The full-color photographs include close-ups of hooves, harnesses, and the strong, patient faces of both horses and owners, as well as working rigs of many types, from a plow hitched to a dozen Belgians, to a one-horse open sleigh. Particularly appealing are the pictures of foals and of young people feeding, shoeing, driving, and admiring these gentle giants. Workhorses have been overshadowed by their flashier cousins; it's good for young readers to be reminded of their beauty and historical importance. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9) Read full book review >