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The Milkman's Boy

The Milkman's Boy

by Donald Hall, Greg Shed (Illustrator)

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Tells the story of the Graves Family Dairy, whose three horses pulled the wagons delivering milk to families in the years before trucks and shopping centers replaced them.


Tells the story of the Graves Family Dairy, whose three horses pulled the wagons delivering milk to families in the years before trucks and shopping centers replaced them.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As golden as sunlight on an autumn day, Shed's (The Language of Doves) illustrations reinforce the tone of Hall's (Ox-Cart Man) leisurely story about the evolving lives of a turn-of-the-century dairy family. Each gouache-on-canvas painting resembles images of Winslow Homer: a horse nudges the shoulder of a boy with an apple, brother and sister skate on a winter pondeach painting suffused with the amber glow of times past. Loosely based on Hall's own childhood delivering milk for his family dairy (as an author's note explains), the Graves family watches Blue City extend its trolley lines to their dairy until their town of Busterville becomes a suburb. Mr. Graves persistently resists a new "fad" until daughter Elzira catches undulant fever and the family concedes to buy a pasteurizing machine. With the pace of a quieter, gentler time, Hall tells how horses "with hooves the size of elm stumps" pulled wooden wagons, how the family washed milk bottles and delivered milk on horseback during a blizzard. Shed's portrait of young Paul is so similar to his namesake that there's an inevitable feeling that son will follow in father's footsteps. Together author and artist provide an inviting glimpse of a stalwart community learning to change with the times. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4Shed's full-page paintings, soft-edged and golden-hued, are memory images, perfect for Hall's story of a family dairy in the early years of this century. Paul, "the milkman's boy," joins his family in bottling and delivering the raw milk by horse and wagon. Changes come to the Graves Family Dairy when their small town becomes a suburb of the nearby city. Paul's father resists the new process of pasteurization because it spoils the taste of the milk, but when little Elzira comes down with undulant fever, the decision is made to modernize. Hall writes about fictional people, but draws upon his own family history and his knowledge of the dairy business to give children a glimpse of the past. His narrative is filled with the warmth of a family engaged in a beloved business, depicting an era of small town friendliness, and a time when the doctor comes to the house and prescribes willow tea. The Milkman's Boy will help children to understand time and change and to see, in Shed's lovely illustrations, a world now gone.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Based on Hall's own family's dairy business at the turn of the century, this nostalgic New England narrative joins his The Ox-Cart Man (1979) in harkening back to a slower time and celebrating farm and family. Before pasteurization, when milk was delivered directly to doorsteps via horse and wagon, young Paul observes his father and brothers at work—the work of holding on to traditional values in the face of modernization, as well as the physical work of carrying milk and capping bottles. When the youngest, Elzira, contracts undulant fever (but not from their raw milk), Paul's father decides to get a pasteurizing machine, balancing continuity and change. Shed's sleepy, light-dappled paintings freeze in time a series of moments in one family's history. Adults with fond memories of glass-bottled milk delivery may appreciate this more than children of the computer age; just as young readers cannot imagine a time before television, they may fail to comprehend milk before cartons and grocery stores, a fact that could appropriately land this old-fashioned intergenerational story in the hands of social-studies teachers.

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.35(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.36(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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