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HOMEPLACE by Anne Shelby


by Anne Shelby & illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-531-06882-X
Publisher: Orchard

 This quick skip through seven generations of farmers living in the same, ever-expanding house seems less a celebration of family roots than a showcase for Halperin's distinctive talents. Shelby (We Keep A Store, Orchard, 1990, etc.) uses poetic language (``She grew like a bean vine up a pole, like honeysuckle on a fencerow...'') and a comfortably repetitive structure; the narrative moves quickly, each generation passing in a few lines and generally sounding much like the others. Halperin's illustrations take longer to appreciate. Even more than those found in Tres Seymour's wonderful Hunting the White Cow (Orchard, 1993), her country scenes recall those found in late Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, with decorated initials, flowered borders, and arcs and strips of small views surrounding or superimposed on larger panels--all filled with tiny, exactly rendered details. There are some anachronistic touches--would a farmhouse have a telephone in 1880? Would trains of that era have spoked wheels?--but that hardly matters for the pleasure of picking them out, and of watching the ``homeplace'' grow from a log cabin to a rambling, cozy steading. (For a different take on a similar subject, see Alice Schertle's Maisie, above.) (Picture Book. 5-8)