Friday, May 18, 2012

OUR FARM by Maya Gottfried

Gottfried, Maya. Illus. by Robert Rahway Zakanitch. Our Farm. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. ISBN 978-0375861185. Ages 5 and up.

The first page of the book tells us “All of the happy animals in this book live now (or once did) at Farm Sanctuary, a shelter for farm animals, where their only job is to enjoy life and be loved.” In the following pages, each farm animal “writes” about itself, giving the reader an informative and charming story about its life at Farm Sanctuary. Wise old Maya the cow, also known as “Grandmama Moo,” waxes poetic about “the sweetest patch of grass,” Mayfly the rooster talks about keeping the hens safe, and JD the piglet joyfully announces that he loves to run… except when it’s time to eat. A dozen other animals follow, each with its own tale about how it spends its day. The illustrations that accompany the animals’ stories are a cross between rough sketch (complete with grid lines and pencil marks) and completed painting, with one or two full-color images enhanced by etchings of other animals. The ultimate result is a book that feels comfortable and familiar, like these animals really are speaking out loud while someone sketches them.

The book closes with a note for grown ups about the Farm Sanctuary, which was founded in 1986 as an antidote to factory farming with unsavory conditions for the animals. This is certainly a book with an ideology, but the message is a touching one, and animal lovers will find much to coo over in both the illustrations and the writing.

Jill Coste

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