ONCE UPON A FARM by Marie Bradby


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7
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An African-American boy remembers the life and death of the family farm in Bradby’s (Momma, Where Are You From, 2000, etc.) latest poetic offering. In the beginning, the boy tells of working the land, enjoying a homegrown meal, milking cows, and picking apples (e.g., “A mule / a tiller / work till dinner. / A stump / a rock / pulls till you drop. / I hold Mama’s hand, / Daddy carries Sue. / We see rabbits, deer, and shooting stars when work is through”) But memories soon meld into the reality of the encroaching urban landscape: “A highway / a light / flashing in the night. / A mall / a town / been spreading round.” Signaling the transformation, Rand’s (Sailing Home: A Story of a Childhood at Sea, 2001, etc.) spirited watercolors turn somber; gray, black, and white vignettes show the speeding blur of cars and a birds-eye view of a construction site. On the facing page—and once again in full color—a sun-dappled sister and brother float boats down a stream. The final spread, framed in grayish blue, shows a bright yellow bulldozer uprooting trees and moving earth. Although the rhyme is occasionally forced, Bradby’s tribute is heartfelt and true, giving young readers a glimpse of an endangered way of life. Rendered in the browns, blues, and greens of rural America, Rand’s expressive illustrations provide perfect accompaniment. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-31766-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2002


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