THE MILKMAN'S BOY by Donald Hall


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Based on Hall's own family's dairy business at the turn of the century, this nostalgic New England narrative joins his The Ox-Cart Man (1979) in harkening back to a slower time and celebrating farm and family. Before pasteurization, when milk was delivered directly to doorsteps via horse and wagon, young Paul observes his father and brothers at work--the work of holding on to traditional values in the face of modernization, as well as the physical work of carrying milk and capping bottles. When the youngest, Elzira, contracts undulant fever (but not from their raw milk), Paul's father decides to get a pasteurizing machine, balancing continuity and change. Shed's sleepy, light-dappled paintings freeze in time a series of moments in one family's history. Adults with fond memories of glass-bottled milk delivery may appreciate this more than children of the computer age; just as young readers cannot imagine a time before television, they may fail to comprehend milk before cartons and grocery stores, a fact that could appropriately land this old-fashioned intergenerational story in the hands of social-studies teachers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Walker