cover image On Grandpa's Farm

On Grandpa's Farm

Vivian Sathre. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-76506-7

In a series of two-word sentences, Sathre (Mouse Chase) describes snippets of a typical day on the farm, in all its busyness and tranquillity. The simple noun-verb combinations--usually no more than three to a spread--give the book a subtle rhythm as it follows the activities of a child and Grandpa during a day on the farm, starting with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal (""Roosters crow. Grandpa rises"") and finishing with a dinner of freshly caught, pan-fried fish (""Shadows fade. Fireflies flicker. Supper sizzles""). Occasionally the noun-verb structure falls short of conveying the action (e.g., ""Shadows hug./ Ice cubes clink./ Tackle box waits""), and some readers may be disappointed that there's not much of a narrative. But Hunter's (Possum's Harvest Moon) earth-toned watercolor, pencil and ink illustrations fill in many of the gaps and thread together some of the unrelated textual ideas with details in double-page spreads (e.g., a tackle box sits on the steps while Grandpa and child drink glasses of ice-filled lemonade on a shady lawn). By frequently placing the primary action near the edges of the frame, Hunter effectively conveys both the expanse of the rural landscape and the comforting austerity of farm interiors. Together, artist and author convincingly capture the stillness in the country air, and the unhurried pace of a summer day. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)