cover image ONCE UPON A FARM


Marie Bradby, , illus. by Ted Rand. . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-31766-5

With the gentle cadence befitting a simpler time, Bradby (More Than Anything Else) harvests a bounty of bucolic imagery for this poetic look at a family farm. A boy relates the challenges, never-ending work and sweet rewards that come with working the land. On each spread, minimalist stanzas ("A plow/ some grain/ pray for rain./ A sow/ a shed/ may all be fed") precede a more personal statement ("Mama cooks the corn cakes,/ Daddy says the prayer./ Sorghum, ham, and jelly—it's been a good year"). By book's end, the boy sadly shares the information that encroaching suburban sprawl and development mean the end of his farm home and way of life. Throughout, Rand (Sailing Home) alternates between sunny full-page watercolor portraits showing the boy and his family, whom he depicts as African-Americans, and smaller airy vignettes providing a good sense of the comfortable rhythms of the proceedings. His parting illustration of a lone bulldozer razing tall trees brings home Brady's message in a quietly dramatic style. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)