Friday, May 27, 2011

Life on the farm

My three daughters were all born in California. Raising young children
in America allowed me to discover lots of wonderful children's books authors
and illustrators, including classics like Doctor Seuss who at the time had
never been published in Italy. There were many family favorites, from
Jan Brett and Mercer Mayer to the lovely Catch me and kiss me and say it again.
But, maybe because we also lived in the country, I think that the most beloved 
of all was this wonderful volume by Alice and Martin Provensen describing
 the animals living on the authors' farm in upstate New York.

I love the humorous, warm and realistic depictions of the farm's many inhabitants.
The autobiographical element helps the authors to make the animals come alive
as individual characters with their unique qualities and weaknesses, from the smart 
sheep Old Eleven to the cocky rooster Big Shot.

 The books has a large format, and of our favourite spreads were the ones featuring 
many vignettes portraying the various animals' personalities and daily activities.
We could get lost for a long time looking at all the funny details in these pages.

I took these photos from our own tattered, very used copy.

The book is very sweet, but not sentimental. The narration is down to earth, 
describing the many difficulties of working with animals, and one page shows 
the "bad" dogs who had to be "put away". The spread above shows the spot in 
the forest where the beloved dogs and cats who had died lie buried. 
I recommend clicking on the pictures to view them at a larger size.


  1. Oh, what a gorgeous book, I love these illustrations!

  2. Fabulous! Thank you for sharing :-)

  3. This is one of my all-time favorite illustrated books. Thank you for posting so many spreads! You must be aware of their similar books: "The Year at Maple Hill Farm" and "An Owl and Three Pussycats". All their books have this droll and loving viewpoint.

  4. Thanks for your comments ladies, I am particularly glad you like this!

    Rob, I am aware of the books you mention but unfortunately I do not own a copy. It's nice to find out that this was one of your favorite books too.

  5. a favorite of mine. i love all of their work.

  6. Thank you so much for posting these wonderful and well remembered pictures! I was looking for a particular page, which you had. I was trying to illustrate the feeling I had about a particular town, that it is very beautiful, but not very interesting. Like Willow the cat! I was writing to my kids, who will remember this book from their childhood, and I was so pleased to be able to copy the picture into my email. I have the book at home, and continue to be very fond of it--and all the Provensen's books. Marvelous illustrators!



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