While her stylistic approach seems indebted to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Spurr's (A Pig Named Perrier) content is her own handy mix. Through verse descriptions of a barnyard, she cheerily introduces a variety of farm animals, implements, colors and numbers: "Blue barn, Blue barn, what are you hiding?/ Two sturdy stallions ready for riding." Bj rkman (the Mama Rex and T readers) supplies zesty watercolors hedged about with quick, free-flowing pen strokes. Light-brown heifers dawdle in speckled brown mud, outside a big brown barn (the word "brown" is rendered in, naturally, brown). With mixed results, Spurr stretches beyond the informational, tacking on to the end of each stanza "This is the farm life-but only a part." Awkwardly, the refrain ultimately points to the farmhouse and its inhabitants: "Fresh hot tea steeping, down quilts for sleeping,/ A crackling woodstove,/ and a family to love./ This is the farm life-the whole and the heart." The strained ending aside, readers will enjoy reaping this title's bountiful harvest of concepts and images. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
With opening sentences reminiscent of "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see," one might assume this to be a spin-off of Bill Martin's work. Happily, this story can hold its own as a peek into life on a farm. Counting, color recognition and rhyming all have a major part in this book, but are not outdone by descriptions of what happens on a working farm and in farm life. Steve Bjorkman's gentle watercolor illustrations evoke a sense of spaciousness and gentleness that only comes from living on a farm. Growing up on a farm myself, I can vouch for the ambiance presented here, from the heifers trying to keep out of the rain to the cozy home. Take note, there is no television set in sight. An addition to this story is the glossary following the text. Now city slickers can be tuned into farm terminology and not miss a bucolic beat. 2003, Holiday House,
— Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
PreS-K-With rhyming verse that calls to mind Bill Martin, Jr.'s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Holt, 1983), this concept book takes children on a tour of Farmer Dan's farm. The excursion begins with "Red barn, red barn, what are you keeping?/One rumbling tractor ready for reaping,/One baler, one sower,/one thresher, one mower./This is the farm life-but only a part." The pages take readers through blue, green, brown, and gray barns, and the numbers from 1 to 10, before coming home to the "White house, white house-./This is the farm life-the whole and the heart." The lighthearted lilt of the verses is reflected in the sketchy style of the paintings. Done in watercolor and pen and ink, the illustrations capture the essence of the rhyme, and offer a story of their own and a touch of humor. The sleepy sows lounge on their backs in very humanlike poses, and Farmer Dan and his piglets have similar contented smiles. The spreads are subtly linked by small details. The green barn appears on the horizon as children read about the blue one. Nearly unseen next to the green barn is a kitten from the upcoming page. The font, with a large handwritten look, fits stylistically with the illustrations. The division of the verses works smoothly and allows the art to show each animal, crop, or piece of equipment mentioned. A farm glossary is appended, but the book is not an information source on farm life. It is an attractive introduction to some basic colors and numbers.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Gray barn, gray barn, what do you house? / Nine straw-filled stalls with nine sleepy sows." In this artful tribute to rural living, Spurr (A Pig Named Perrier, 2002, etc.) visits five increasingly well-populated barns, each a different color, before arriving at last at the white farmhouse, where "a family to love" links all the parts together into "the whole and the heart" of the farm. A farmer and two children make their rounds in Björkman's (The Grisly Gazette, 2002, etc.) watercolor sketches, bursting joyously out of the horse barn into lush grass, slogging through mud with a feed pail, chuckling over piglets and kittens, arriving home to dinner and a cozy get-together in front of-not the TV, but a wood-burning stove. Idealized? Yes. Heartwarming? Definitely. And a natural story time companion to other barnyard visits, such as Nancy Tafuri's This Is the Farmer (1994) or Margaret Wise Brown's Big Red Barn (reissued 1989, illus. by Felicia Bond). (Picture book. 5-7)