STORIES FROM THE ROUND BARN by Jacqueline Dougan Jackson

STORIES FROM THE ROUND BARN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Delicately filigreed vignettes of a Wisconsin farm life from children's-book author Jackson. In 1906, when his hearing failed, Jackson's grandfather abandoned his ministry and bought a dairy farm. By 1907, he was delivering milk, the bottles stoppered with a cap imprinted ``W.J. Dougan, The Babies' Milkman.'' He was a conscientious farmer who ran a tight and good ship, experimented intelligently, and treated his employees with respect. He prospered. Jackson grew up on the spread, and here she paints its days. There are profiles of farmhands, loony and saintlike and otherwise; conjurings of the odor, light, and aura of tucked-away places on the farm--a dim passageway between cow barn and side building, secret venues in the big house where Jackson could pick away at the wallpaper unseen. Many of the 47 short chapters recount everyday events: milking and detasseling and delivery runs in the dead of night, Grampa's first tax return (it set him back 13 cents), the ebb and flow of depression years and boom times, and the kind of stuff that stays fixed in a young mind (a rail-walking hobo cut in half by a train). And there are not a few episodes written with startling beauty; in one, she tells of an early infatuation, her first, with a young fellow working at the farm. It was during WW II, he enlisted, and his plane went down over Europe. A green star was placed by the MIA's name on the church honor roll. Years later Jackson finds the honor roll in a storeroom of the church, presses a gold star (``the kind her piano teacher used to put on a piece when it was finished'') of ultimate sacrifice atop the green one and closes the man's short life. Elegant and polished. Jackson finds little gems in the muck and toil of farming life. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8101-5072-7
Page count: 300pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997