Through the seasons, Poppy the alpaca and her mates explore the fields and gardens of Moonrise Farm, introduced in earlier volumes of the series Sweet Pea & Friends.
Other farm animals and an occasional human (the white family of the co-creators) appear, but the visual emphasis is on the alpacas, unusual enough to invite curiosity despite the lack of a strong storyline. In every double-page, full-bleed spread, Poppy finds fresh, healthy new foods to eat as the seasons change, encouraging children to do the same. Names of fruits, vegetables, and herbs are sprinkled through the text, but young readers may not be able to easily match names with specific items in the photos. One cold evening, Poppy’s mother shows her the harvest moon and the Canada geese migrating south. She says: “Soon, everything on the farm will rest until spring.” After eating freely through spring and summer, Poppy worries that there will be nothing left, but her mother shows her the barn. The more experienced alpaca tells her: “Farmer John and Farmer Jennifer have stored food from the gardens for us.” The photo montages, ethereal and out of focus at times, are so full of flora and fauna to look at that children will want to return to the pictures, but the overlong, static text fails to enchant.
There’s nourishment to be found here, but it doesn’t add up to a fully rounded meal. (Picture book. 4-6)