HANNAH'S FARM: The Seasons on an Early American Homestead by Michael McCurdy

HANNAH'S FARM: The Seasons on an Early American Homestead

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A series of nostalgic pictures re-creating life in pre-industrial New England, from a talented wood engraver (The Devils Who Learned to Be Good, 1987). Depicting a farm that still stands in Massachusetts' Berkshire Hills, McCurdy's quiet narrative describes winter days cutting wood or indoors by the hearth, sugaring, raising a barn, planting and harvest, and a Christmas celebration when Grandma is skeptical of an innovation: a decorated tree. The text is somewhat enlived by occasional dialogue; but although LC classes this as fiction, there is really no story. The illustrations are of greatest interest: the stern medium is appropriate to the farmers' sturdy life. The craggy figures have the wooden quality of folk art; faces are sometimes precisely defined, sometimes caricatured, but never pretty; creative use of perspective lends vigor. Details are authentic and interesting in themselves, but some of the illustrations seem cluttered with pattern and line. A mixed effort, of value as social history and as the work of an illustrator of merit. But Cooney's Island Boy (see above) is a more graceful and intriguing story, with well-integrated historical detail and both depth and wisdom that are not approached here.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1988
Publisher: Holiday House