cover image On Ramon's Farm

On Ramon's Farm

Campbell Geeslin. Atheneum Books, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81134-0

Taking readers south of the border, Geeslin (In Rosa's Mexico) creates a lively barnyard full of animal sounds in this appealing small-format volume. Every day young Ramon does all his chores while his mama weaves at her loom. One of his favorite ways to pass the time is to make up rhymes about the animals he tends. Happily, the animals' antics provide plenty of fodder for the budding bard. But the fun twist here comes with the book's Mexican setting. The cacophonous cast of creatures speaks Spanish, allowing readers to discover how animalspeak is rendered in another language. Moreover, each of the brief, tightly constructed tales opens with a short glossary of Spanish words used in the story. These breaks in the narrative are sure to encourage both beginning readers and those just learning foreign language basics. Mathers (Lottie's New Beach Towel) splices a variety of vignettes and full-page compositions into the text, an approach that adds verve and motion to the simple stories. Her predominantly sunny hues and humorous depictions of the animals' silly behavior conjure the mood of a fiesta. Details in landscape, dress and architectural design also provide an atmospheric look at a Mexican farm and village. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)