A Beautiful & Authentic Midwestern Picture Book
It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Based on author Phyllis Alsdurf’s own childhood on a Midwestern dairy farm, this book has a lyrical story, a description of the daily chores a daughter shares with her father each evening as they milk and take care of their cows. Each two-page spread is a beautiful illustration that supports Alsdurf’s simple, straightforward narrative, a step-by-step introduction to evening tasks on a small family dairy farm. The story goes beyond that, though, sharing not only chores but the loving relationship between a father and daughter as well as the relationship between humans and animals.
So you won’t think I’m overly infatuated with this book (and maybe I am), I’ll let you in on a secret: I showed this book to an authentic dairy farm girl, and she loved it too. My soon-to-be Mother in Law grew up on her father’s Wisconsin dairy farm, and she gave It’s Milking Time her official seal of approval and accuracy. Everything from the cleaning of milking equipment to the old-school radio in the barn (my mother-in-law’s dad used to play polka music for the cows) is spot on. That said, I can say from personal experience that the baby calves in this book were a little too well-behaved… but if that’s my only complaint, I consider it a minor one compared to the overall feel and depth of the book.
It’s Milking Time is simple and sweet, and the illustrations are as accurate as I’ve seen in a picture book while maintaining warmth and a soft touch. If you’re looking for a riveting tale or something stock-full of adventure, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re interested in a beautifully crafted story, both in writing and illustration, it will serve you well. It’s a great window into the world of dairy farming from a child’s perspective, and as a bedtime story, it would be perfect, especially for animal lovers. It’s also been recommended as a good read-aloud choice. Check this one out from your local library at a minimum, and consider bringing it home from the store for good. (As my mother-in-law said, “I wish we’d had this to read to the kids growing up!”)
It’s Milking Time won’t show up on shelves for another few days–the official release date is April 24–but be on the lookout. The illustrations and poetic narrative are not to be missed. If you want more information, check out the Kirkus Review here: “It’s a lovely, poetic picture book.” (Their plot-line description is much more detailed than mine.)
Copyright April 24, 2012
Image from www.goodreads.com
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