Sarah Hamilton

Author Lindsey Craig once again teams up with Arthur creator and best-selling author/illustrator Marc Brown in a rollicking read-aloud for children, Farmyard Beat. It’s nighttime on the farm and the animals can’t sleep as one by one, they catch a contagious beat. The repetitive bounce in refrains such as “sheep can’t sleep / sheep can’t sleep / sheep can’t sleep / ‘cause they got that beat” moves the story along in singsong fashion, beckoning listeners to join in the chorus. The placement of text compels children to guess which animals will catch the farmyard beat next before turning the page. 

To compliment Craig’s rhythmic phrasing, Brown’s paper-cut illustrations show animals jumping and dancing, enjoying their nighttime frolic. Children will want to rush through the first reading to predict the story but will linger on the second and third, absorbing the bright colors and varied lines in each scene. Brown’s collage work expertly evokes a playful mood, highlighting the shape and texture of familiar farm animals. When the owl hoots “Whooo? Whooo? / Lantern swinging… / Whooo? Whooo?” readers will wonder if the lantern carrier will bring an end to all the fun.

Farmyard Beat delivers a fun-filled romp in the barnyard for both readers andlisteners complete with bright colors, primary shapes, infectious rhymes and a natural beat. Like a favorite song sung over and over, children will want to read this again and again (and the reader won’t mind one bit).

Author Lindsey Craig once again teams up with Arthur creator and best-selling author/illustrator Marc Brown in a rollicking read-aloud for children, Farmyard Beat. It’s nighttime on the farm and the animals can’t sleep as one by one, they catch a contagious beat. The repetitive bounce in refrains such as “sheep can’t sleep / sheep can’t […]

 More than a decade after first meeting May Amelia in the Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia (1999), readers will again find themselves rooting for the girl with spunk and spirit who navigates a river of difficulties to find her place in a land dominated by “trees and cows and sheep and bears and brothers.”

In The Trouble with May Amelia, being born and raised “in the middle of nowhere” on Washington State’s Nasel River in 1900 is trouble enough. Even more trouble comes from being the only girl on a farm with a herd of seven brothers. Add to that a Pappa who finds girls useless, particularly one who does not meet his expectations of what “A Proper Young Lady” should be, and May Amelia Jackson is “in Trouble Forever.”  

The Jackson farm is situated among a community of hard-working Finnish immigrants. Not all the adults speak English fluently and contact with outsiders is infrequent. It is the turn of the century and settling undeveloped areas of America is often difficult: Bears and cougars threaten the Jackson’s livestock; logs from the logging camp regularly barrel downstream and become life-threatening to anyone on the river; and doctors and medicine are not close at hand. The worst difficulty comes for 12-year-old May when a man in a suit shows up and convinces Pappa, with May’s translation services, to invest in a plan to develop Nasel into a boomtown. The Jackson family, and many others who follow Pappa’s lead, lose everything when the plan is exposed as fraudulent. Pappa’s sole source of blame for the family’s ruin is the translator herself, May Amelia. With guts and courage, May Amelia overcomes Pappa’s blame and the community’s hopelessness, and the reader will be compelled to cheer when she finally does.

Using stories from her own Finnish immigrant family, Jennifer L. Holm recreates an unforgettable character whose adventures will have young readers wishing they could run right alongside May. Wilbert, May’s best brother, often compares her to an irritating grain of sand in an oyster, and after reading The Trouble with May Amelia, the reader’s reward is a genuine pearl.

 

 

 More than a decade after first meeting May Amelia in the Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia (1999), readers will again find themselves rooting for the girl with spunk and spirit who navigates a river of difficulties to find her place in a land dominated by “trees and cows and sheep and bears and […]

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