Subscribe to The Horn Book

Down on the farm

As an urban twenty-something with a CSA farm share, a crush on Michael Pollan, and the occasional yearning to dangle tomato plants from my third-story apartment windows, I think a bit too much about where my food comes from. I often wonder how much of my insanity I will impart upon my future offspring. Will I blend my own baby food? Withhold McDonald’s? Send my kids into my jungle of a garden to weed and bring back dinner?

With the increasing momentum of the local food movement, a bevy of conscientious young parents are likely seeking media to further educate/indoctrinate their children. What better way to instruct your urban children in the true origins of their local, organic chicken dinner than with artist Julia Rothman’s Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life (Storey, October 2011)? Although published for adults, Farm Anatomy is little more than a hefty, hipster-friendly visual dictionary with a dash of farmer’s almanac, making it a good choice for the whole family to share. Rothman’s pen and ink illustrations are heavily hand-labeled, detailing every part of farm life from soil composition to the twenty-six distinct styles of rooster combs.

Rothman’s images can be a bit pastoral and rosy, but the book’s content doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of a working farm. One glance at the double-page spread full of archaic, frightening-looking “tools of the trade” makes me grateful that my urban existence does not require something called an “ear-notcher”.

About Jessica Tackett MacDonald

Jessica Tackett MacDonald is a collection development librarian at the Boston Public Library, specializing in youth and teen collections. She holds masters degrees in library science and children’s literature from Simmons College.



  1. I love books like this. I read Mother Earth News/Hobby Farm/Grit magazines like some people read fashion magazines. This is right up my alley-thank you!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind