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Barn Boot Blues

Barn Boot Blues

by Catherine Friend, Kate Rudd (Read by)

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Meet Taylor McNamara. She’s twelve. She’s a city girl. But her parents have just moved her onto a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere. She’s trying to get into the spirit of farming, but things aren’t going very well.

Meet the farm animals: 40 chickens, 20 sheep, 10 ducks, and 4 goats, one of which can pee on his own head. Taylor’


Meet Taylor McNamara. She’s twelve. She’s a city girl. But her parents have just moved her onto a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere. She’s trying to get into the spirit of farming, but things aren’t going very well.

Meet the farm animals: 40 chickens, 20 sheep, 10 ducks, and 4 goats, one of which can pee on his own head. Taylor’s job is to collect eggs every morning, which she can only do using an umbrella to catch the chicken poop.

Meet the principal and kids in Taylor’s new school: Taylor inadvertently breaks rules such as “A skirt must be a full one inch longer than your fingertips.” Kids tease her about her ugly barn boots and the chicken poop in her hair, yet they admire her pluck.

Taylor struggles to adapt to her new life, but finds it hard to adjust to the farm’s daily surprises, especially those that prove to be embarrassing at school. With the help of her friend Megan, Taylor embarks on a nearly disastrous plan to move her family back to the city. But one lonely night, in the barn, Taylor discovers that farming isn’t all bad.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Taylor McNamara has just been uprooted from her city life (and the Mall of America) in Minneapolis to a farm with runaway sheep, smelly goats, and chickens that poop on her head—right before the start of the new school year. Although she faces a string of farm mishaps, the girls at her new school admire her poise (helped by a fair share of blind luck) when faced with dress code trouble on the first day. Nevertheless, stuck on the farm with no cable TV, no friends, and itchy chores, Taylor is not only homesick, but "friendsick," and even "schoolsick." Her new pals hatch a plan to get Taylor off the farm, with an unexpected result. Although the plot has some implausible situations, listeners will probably not notice. Friend's story (Amazon Children's Pub., 2011) is humorous and refreshingly free of angst and whining. Kate Rudd's voice is perfect as the first-person narrator. She varies her tone just enough for each character, and her breezy delivery parallels the story line. An enjoyable listen for tween fans of realistic fiction.—Jane Newschwander, Fluvanna County Public Schools, VA
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Twelve-year-old Taylor McNamara has just moved from the big city to a farm located near a small town in Minnesota. She is nervous about starting school, making friends, and learning the ways of farm life. The first day of school does not begin well when she forgets to take off her barn boots prior to boarding the school bus. Taylor gets teased, but she uses her humor to deflect the jokes and is gradually able to befriend Megan. Unfortunately, farm life does not get any easier for Taylor. The chores are messy and time-consuming, and she misses shopping at the mall. The only good part of her new life is spending time with Florence, a neighbor who teaches Taylor about spinning and dying wool. Soon her friend Megan helps her come up with a plan to leave the farm, but just as the plan seems to be working, an incident occurs that makes Taylor realize her feelings about farm life are changing. Animal lovers and/or children who live on farms may find some charm and humor in the story, but as a whole, the plot is slow-moving, the climax is predictable, and the characters have few unique qualities. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Moving can be a traumatic experience for kids of any age but when Taylor McNamara's parents move from Minneapolis to a small rural area to fulfill their dream of owning a farm filled with sheep, chickens, and goats, the 12-year-old is miserable. She feels deprived of weekends at the Mall of America and, worse yet, there's no cable television. Barn Boot Blues offers a humorous look at what it takes to fit in at a new school and make new friends. Taylor's sense of humor helps her out when she almost misses the bus on the first day of school and ends up wearing her barn boots all day, which draws snickers from students and lands her the nickname of "Boots." She learns to take an umbrella when gathering eggs to avoid another chicken-poop-in-the-hair incident and excels at spinning yarn, especially when it allows her to watch her favorite television program. While the story line is a bit slow to develop and the responsibility that Taylor's parents thrust upon her seems a bit much for someone who has never lived on a farm before, the girl's sarcastic wit gets her through most situations and eventually helps her and her family maintain a united front when times get tough. It's Taylor's ability to rise to a challenge and understand the meaning of friendship that turns this book back on course.—Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews

City girl or farm girl, which will Taylor choose to be? Or does she have a choice?

Twelve-year-old Taylor's parents have uprooted her from her perfectly comfortable life in Minneapolis and planted her on a farm to raise chickens, ducks, goats and sheep. She takes on many responsibilities and chores, all presenting their own levels of grossness, and manages, mostly, to attack them with ingenuity, determination and some hilarity. But she describes herself as thoroughly discombobulated as she tries to adjust to a new school and this new, alien way of life. Unable to voice her unhappiness to her parents, she plots to sabotage her school grades and behavior to get their attention, and convince them to return to the city. Taylor tells her own story with humor and honesty, as she comes to terms with the changes in her environment and in herself. The peripheral characters are not as well drawn, however, especially her parents, who seem to make precipitous, impulsive, life-changing decisions with good intentions but little else. The other children are one dimensional as well; there's a manipulative town girl, a teasing, irritating boy and a kindhearted farm girl. Only Taylor's engaging, breezy narration lifts the whole above the banal.

Pleasant, but it's all been done before. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.12(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Catherine Friend left a career in technical writing in Minneapolis to move with her spouse to a small farm in southeastern Minnesota. Her adult memoirs, Hit by a Farm and Sheepish, chronicle her many adventures and mishaps in the country. Her children’s picture book, The Perfect Nest, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best read-aloud books of 2007.

While she’s not always comfortable with every aspect of farming, Catherine is proud that she’s learned to take the wool from her sheep’s backs and knit it into very cool socks.

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