Eva of the Farm

Overview

A girl’s struggle to save her family’s farm, told in verse, stands as a testament to the power of hope.

Twelve-year-old Eva DeHart knows her family’s farm is the best, most magical place in the whole world. The Farm has apple trees and sun daisies and a creek. The Farm has frightening things too—like cougars, bears, and a dead tree that Eva calls the Demon Snag. And everything at the Farm shoots out of Eva’s fingertips into her poems. She ...

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Eva of the Farm

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Overview

A girl’s struggle to save her family’s farm, told in verse, stands as a testament to the power of hope.

Twelve-year-old Eva DeHart knows her family’s farm is the best, most magical place in the whole world. The Farm has apple trees and sun daisies and a creek. The Farm has frightening things too—like cougars, bears, and a dead tree that Eva calls the Demon Snag. And everything at the Farm shoots out of Eva’s fingertips into her poems. She dreams of being a heroine of shining deeds, but who ever heard of a heroine-poet?

When a blight strikes the orchard and a letter from the bank arrives marked FORECLOSURE, Eva is given that very chance as she puts all the power of her imagination at work to save the Farm. From a booth at the farmer’s market to the snowbound hills where the coyotes hunt, Eva discovers that we face our fears and find our courage in the most unexpected places.

This novel in verse by acclaimed author Dia Calhoun is about the transforming powers of imagination and hope, which can turn us all into heroes.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times bestselling author - Karen Hesse
"Eva's spirit soars."
Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse
"Eva's spirit soars."
Publishers Weekly
Twelve-year-old Eva adores her family’s farm—it’s the inspiration for her poems, which are interspersed throughout this novel-in-verse from Calhoun (Avielle of Rhia). But the bad economy brings financial stress to Eva’s family, and they are in danger of losing the farm. There are two levels to the story, the first being the world of mounting bills, the threat of foreclosure, and Eva’s decision to sell her poetry in the town market, where it is received lovingly by their smalltown community. The other layer is the spiritual battle Eva fights against the “Demon Snag,” a blackened tree stump at the edge of the farm that she imagines is responsible for her family’s problems. The local Bead Woman guides Eva in a mystical journey in which Eva must decide if hope can triumph despite the threats to her beloved farm. Although Eva’s poetry is a bit too lovely to be believable, her situation will evoke sympathy, and the details of the family’s financial distress are realistically drawn. Ages 10–12. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (July)
From the Publisher
"Eva's spirit soars."—Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse

"Named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s heroine from his epic poem Evangeline, 12-year-old Eva lives on her family’s beloved Acadia Orchard in Eastern Washington. In this beautiful, tightly woven novel in verse, which follows the progression of the seasons, she may have to leave her idyllic home, just like her namesake. As Eva plucks words from the world around her—'They are warm, / as though sprinkled / with all the spices of the sky'—her 'plant a forest, save a polar bear' father only sees the value of math, science and economics. Their rift grows wider when a blight starts the ripples of foreclosure. Eva begins to blame their mounting misfortunes on a blackened tree in the canyon known as the Demon Snag and the evil it must be emitting. Forming a fierce bond with the local Bead Woman, who’s encountered her own tough times, the resilient girl not only discovers a kindred artist, but the power of imagination, hope and even poetry to save her farm—and spirit. Calhoun doesn’t shy away from Eva’s reality, offering snapshots of the cycle of life, including a baby deer ripped from its mother’s womb. Although Eva’s poetry far surpasses most experienced poets, the effect leaves readers with splendid images to savor.
Fans of Karen Hesse will welcome this partner in poetry."
—Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2012

"The beautifully composed language slowly relays Eva’s journey through the realities of adult problems, and intuitive readers will appreciate the lyrical and metaphorical imagery. Collagelike illustrations introduce each section. This text offers much to prompt discussion and poetry writing."
School Library Journal

Twelve-year-old Eva (Evangeline) loves her life on the family orchard in Washington State, loves her baby brother Achilles, and loves to write poetry. Indeed, writing poetry is Eva’s way of making sense of her world, as she writes about how much she misses her grandmother and her former best friend, Chloe, and how she worries that her family will lose their farm that, to her, is utterly magical. This last worry is not an idle one, as a events soon put Eva’s family in dire financial straits.

However, Eva’s poetry, a newfound adult friend, and Eva’s own strength bolster her through this difficult time, and although the story ends with the farm’s ownership still in limbo, there is a feeling of hope and possibility as well.... The potentially hopeful but ultimately unresolved ending is also refreshing, and kids who have also faced financial uncertainty may especially relate to Eva’s family’s plight.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature - Heidi Quist
In spite of the obvious allusion to Eve of the Garden (in Eden), the book stretches more into any other mythology than Judeo-Christian. Eva's brother is Achilles, her dog is Sirius, and they study the Persian constellations. When she first hears about the possibility of losing the farm, she writes, "Where is Pomona,/ Roman goddess of orchards?/ Where is Demeter,/ Greek goddess of the land?/ Where is Gaia,/ great goddess of the earth?/ I'm wild to pray/" However, as I just indicated, this is a story about an innocent being cast from an idyllic place. Eva's life on the farm feels to her like ultimate living, the wide open spaces and a personal "Crow's Nest," perfect for a developing imagination. And in fact, that imagination plays a key role in her overcoming the challenges she faces. The results of her imagination are seen throughout the novel, which is both written in verse and includes a number of Eva's poems. With the focus on hope and positive thinking, I was worried the book would end in a false sense of the powers of these intangibles, but I was pleased with the realistic and positive fashion Calhoun treated Eva's trials, and in turn, the trials of her readers in their various coming of age challenges.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Circumstances created by the great recession coupled with unexpected medical bills and a crop-killing disease in the pear trees place Eva's family farm in foreclosure. It seems that these days, the 12-year-old is losing just about everything she loves: Grandma Helen, who supported her poetry writing, has died; her best friend moved to Seattle; and now she might have to say goodbye to the farm, her sanctuary with its apple trees, haunted outhouse, and sun daisies. Written in verse that is more cathartic expression than storytelling, Eva's own poems are scattered throughout and accented with italicized spurts that highlight her feelings, fears, and frustrations. In an effort to raise money to help her parents meet the bank's requirements, Eva sells her poetry at the local farmer's market. After a newspaper interviews her for a piece about the economy, Eva is profiled on TV and a Seattle talk show where she brings media attention to her family's plight. Despite her sincere efforts, she eventually must acquiesce to her family's financial misfortune and accept a new future even as she vows to always remain in spirit, "Eva of the farm." Like the protagonist in Katherine Hannigan's Ida B (Greenwillow, 2004), Eva presents a sense of urgency and pathos through the symbolism of an orchid's companionship. The beautifully composed language slowly relays Eva's journey through the realities of adult problems, and intuitive readers will appreciate the lyrical and metaphorical imagery. Collagelike illustrations introduce each section. This text offers much to prompt discussion and poetry writing.—Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Kirkus Reviews
"[W]hoever heard of a heroine-poet?" Named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's heroine from his epic poem Evangeline, 12-year-old Eva lives on her family's beloved Acadia Orchard in Eastern Washington. In this beautiful, tightly woven novel in verse, which follows the progression of the seasons, she may have to leave her idyllic home, just like her namesake. As Eva plucks words from the world around her--"They are warm, / as though sprinkled / with all the spices of the sky"--her "plant a forest, save a polar bear" father only sees the value of math, science and economics. Their rift grows wider when a blight starts the ripples of foreclosure. Eva begins to blame their mounting misfortunes on a blackened tree in the canyon known as the Demon Snag and the evil it must be emitting. Forming a fierce bond with the local Bead Woman, who's encountered her own tough times, the resilient girl not only discovers a kindred artist, but the power of imagination, hope and even poetry to save her farm--and spirit. Calhoun doesn't shy away from Eva's reality, offering snapshots of the cycle of life, including a baby deer ripped from its mother's womb. Although Eva's poetry far surpasses most experienced poets, the effect leaves readers with splendid images to savor. Fans of Karen Hesse will welcome this partner in poetry. (Verse novel. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442417014
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 1,088,977
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dia Calhoun is the author of Eva of the Farm and After the River the Sun as well as the fantasy novels Avielle of Rhia, The Phoenix Dance, White Midnight, Aria of the Sea, and Firegold. She makes frequent school visits, sings Italian arias, fly-fishes, gardens, and eats lots of chocolate in her spare time. She lives with her husband, two cats, and two ghost cats in Tacoma, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

On top of the hill,

I lean against the deer fence

and write a poem in the sky.

My fingertip traces each word

on the sunlit blue—

the sky will hold the words for me

until I get the chance

to write them down.

After the last line,

I sign my name—

Eva of the Farm.

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