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Debby Atwell, Author, Debby Atwell, Illustrator
Debby Atwell, Author, Debby Atwell, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-78568-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-618-15316-9
Prebound-Glued - 30 pages - 978-0-613-44188-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-22585-4
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Sounding a nostalgic historical note reminiscent of that heard in Donald Hall and Emily Arnold McCully's Old Home Day (Children's Forecasts, Aug. 12), this attractively plain story chronicles the life of a barn from its construction during the Revolutionary War to the present. The barn itself narrates, in an unorthodox but inspired choice of perspective by first-time author Atwell (illustrator of The Day Hans Got His Way): ""Life was all around me: babies growing, corn ripening, leaves turning, snow falling."" The healthy hubbub dies down, and the barn weathers hardships, as in the Depression, when it is inhabited sporadically by various hoboes. Later still, a fire breaks out, an event that is decidedly eerie since the victim is doing the talking: ""And there I was, on fire. Nothing could stop it. I burned to the ground."" Rebuilt, the barn houses horses and, despite the sight of a thriving metropolis in the background, things are much the same as in the beginning. Atwell's folk art-influenced paintings at once depict the changing times and the comforting timelessness of the barn's existence. Both narrative and pictures exude tranquility; in the closing words of the barn, quite content with its current incarnation, ""It is some lovely."" Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
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