cover image FARM LIFE


Elizabeth Spurr, , illus. by Steve Björkman. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1777-3

While her stylistic approach seems indebted to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Spurr's (A Pig Named Perrier) content is her own handy mix. Through verse descriptions of a barnyard, she cheerily introduces a variety of farm animals, implements, colors and numbers: "Blue barn, Blue barn, what are you hiding?/ Two sturdy stallions ready for riding." Björkman (the Mama Rex and T readers) supplies zesty watercolors hedged about with quick, free-flowing pen strokes. Light-brown heifers dawdle in speckled brown mud, outside a big brown barn (the word "brown" is rendered in, naturally, brown). With mixed results, Spurr stretches beyond the informational, tacking on to the end of each stanza "This is the farm life—but only a part." Awkwardly, the refrain ultimately points to the farmhouse and its inhabitants: "Fresh hot tea steeping, down quilts for sleeping,/ A crackling woodstove,/ and a family to love./ This is the farm life—the whole and the heart." The strained ending aside, readers will enjoy reaping this title's bountiful harvest of concepts and images. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)