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Review of Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter

doyle_sleep-tight-farmstar2 Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter
by Eugenie Doyle; illus. by Becca Stadtlander
Primary    Chronicle    32 pp.
8/16    978-1-4521-2901-3    $16.99

Here’s a unique look at the (considerable) work involved in putting a small farm to bed for the winter — covering strawberry plants with straw, cutting back and burning raspberry canes, chopping and stacking wood, building a windbreak for the beehives, moving the farm machinery into the equipment shed. Illustrations reveal a family of four — mom and dad, two kids (and a dog), wearing increasingly warmer clothes as the weather becomes colder — working together to accomplish their many tasks. Each double-page spread gives specifics for what needs to be done, in language both practical (“We board up chinks in the chicken coop”) and lyrical (“We collect the day’s eggs, fragile gifts from our friends”); each spread ends in a line in larger type, bidding that part of the farm good night (“Good night, chickens, snug in your coop”). Throughout, the author imparts a remarkable amount of information (who knew that, in winter, beehive entrances are made smaller in order to keep field mice out?). Readers may see echoes of Barbara Cooney’s Ox-Cart Man (rev. 2/80) in the illustrations, but Stadtlander has made this farm her own, in detailed paintings that alternately capture the stark beauty of the December landscape and the snug, communal feeling of the family kitchen and farmstand. Front and back endpapers show a stand of trees, first in their autumn reds and golds and then bare and covered in snow; but each is bookended with a page of field flowers in glorious summer colors, reminding readers that winter doesn’t last forever.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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