In her delightful book, Farming, Gail Gibbons explores the activities that take place throughout the year on an old fashioned, idealized, family-owned, small farm probably in the Northeast. The farmer grows everything from vegetables to fruit and grain, and raises cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and poultry. He also keeps bees and taps the maple trees for syrup. Readers see how both indoor and outdoor activities on the farm change from spring to summer to fall and then winter.
Each two page spread is packed with activities and figures. In spring, for example, we see tulips poking through the ground, geese flying north, and snow melting, and are told that baby lambs are in the barn to be checked, a chipmunk creeps out from its winter home, and patches of ice are melting. A farmhouse, chickenhouse, farm stand, barn with a silo, machine shed and sugarhouse suggest all kinds of activities. The following pages show cattle enjoying a pasture, the planting of the vegetable garden, and the the preparation and planting of fields. Inside, meanwhile, the stalls are cleaned, the baby chicks are feed, new baby animals are born and the cows are being milked. Using a similar format and level of detail the chores of the other three seasons are depicted ending with the comment that everyone goes to bed early in winter. The last three pages give a brief idea of specialized farms: diary, egg and poultry, grain, fruit, vegetable, cattle and ranches.
For children who are growing up in the city or suburbs and have little no experience with a farm, this book is an eye opener. Gibbon has packed a lot of information about farming into the text all of which is enhanced by vivid illustrations in bold colors. Although some of the practices are out dated (like ploughing, housing cattle indoors, or handling square bails manually), the variety of activities taking place on a farm is well laid out accompanied by a simple text with short sentences. Written for children ages 4-8,Farming is an excellent choice for a valuable learning experience on farming.
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