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CLARABELLE by Cris Peterson


Making Milk and So Much More

by Cris Peterson & photographed by David R. Lundquist

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59078-310-8
Publisher: Boyds Mills

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)