cover image Milkman's Boy

Milkman's Boy

Donald Hall. Walker & Company, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8463-6

As golden as sunlight on an autumn day, Shed's (The Language of Doves) illustrations reinforce the tone of Hall's (Ox-Cart Man) leisurely story about the evolving lives of a turn-of-the-century dairy family. Each gouache-on-canvas painting resembles images of Winslow Homer: a horse nudges the shoulder of a boy with an apple, brother and sister skate on a winter pond--each painting suffused with the amber glow of times past. Loosely based on Hall's own childhood delivering milk for his family dairy (as an author's note explains), the Graves family watches Blue City extend its trolley lines to their dairy until their town of Busterville becomes a suburb. Mr. Graves persistently resists a new ""fad"" until daughter Elzira catches undulant fever and the family concedes to buy a pasteurizing machine. With the pace of a quieter, gentler time, Hall tells how horses ""with hooves the size of elm stumps"" pulled wooden wagons, how the family washed milk bottles and delivered milk on horseback during a blizzard. Shed's portrait of young Paul is so similar to his namesake that there's an inevitable feeling that son will follow in father's footsteps. Together author and artist provide an inviting glimpse of a stalwart community learning to change with the times. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)