cover image HOMESPUN SARAH


Verla Kay, , illus. by Ted Rand. . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23417-0

With her signature spare and crisp rhyming verse Kay (Broken Feather) introduces readers to the daily life of a colonial-era Pennsylvania farm family. Sarah and her siblings put in long hours that start at daybreak ("Rooster crowing,/ Water, pour./ Bare toes prancing,/ Chilly floor"). Sarah, the oldest girl, brings water from the stream, weeds the garden, cooks cornmeal over the fire (she even helps extinguish the flames when a spark ignites her mother's hem) and stands eating her dinner, all the while chafing under her dress ("Sarah squirming,/ Clothes too tight./ Laces straining,/ Woeful sight"). By book's end, the whole family has contributed to the construction of Sarah's new homespun frock. Rand's (Sailing Home) watercolors imaginatively fill in the backdrop to Kay's plethora of fun facts. He shows how the siblings dip the candles, shear the sheep, spin the flax, etc., and adds details of his own (a toddler tethered to a mother or an older sister as they perform their chores). The paintings also convey an overall lightness of mood, reflected in the characters' mostly cheerful faces. An author's note helps readers understand the details in this spunky, informative tale. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)