On the Farm, at the Market

G. Brian Karas. Holt/Ottaviano, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9372-8

Karas (A Poem in Your Pocket) hints at the structure of this picture book through its title: the first half follows the activity at three farms as vegetables are harvested, cheese is made, and mushrooms are grown, while the second half is set at a busy neighborhood market. Beyond providing intriguing details about farming—vegetables "get washed right away to take out the field's heat," and mushrooms are grown on hanging plastic bags "filled with a mixture of hay, sawdust, and water" that mimic tree trunks—Karas puts a strong emphasis on long hours and hard work, including late-night cleanup at the Amazing Cheese Dairy Farm and early morning setup at the market. Working in a mixture of gouache, acrylic, and pencil, Karas creates inviting and carefully detailed scenes that evoke a tight-knit community, from the friendly interactions at the market to the children learning the ropes at each farm, as the process of training a new generation of growers and artisans gets underway. Ages 5–9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Apr.)