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Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

de Alice Provensen, Martin Provensen

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Describes animals on the authors' own farm in New York: dogs, horses, pigs, geese, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, cats, and more!
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  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Delightful. ?Not shy of being honest about the facts of life and the fact that some animals aren't sweet and 'friendly.' ?áFor all ages, from little ones who like to look at the pictures even when there's nobody to read the words, to parents, to parents of 'animal companions,' to seniors who might revel in prompted nostalgia.

(Thirteen yo little dog) Dinah is crazy about Stones.... Dina doesn't like anyone to see where she puts the stones. ?áPerhaps she is building something. ?áShe is doing her work. ?áMuffin (big shaggy puppy) doesn't do any work. ?áShe picks up big sticks, hoping to tempt someone to play with her. ?áDogs like to play."

"The animals that were... (images from earlier pages)
the animals that are... (more images from earlier pages)
and the animals that will be... (images of puppies, goslings, etc.)
bring joy, laughter, and life to the lives of the people who live in a house that needs painting, at the end of a road full of holes.... Maple Hill Farm."

Now I really want to read the book that I actually meant to order, A Year at Maple Hill Farm.

" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
add your special features here
  LeonaL | Jun 25, 2010 |
my favorite farm book of all!
  etc123 | Jun 26, 2009 |
My children and I enjoyed reading Our Animal Friends At Maple Hill Farm...no...we LOVED it. It is a book that has easily and gracefully stood the test of time and is still as witty and warm and down-home welcoming as it was 30 years ago when I first read it to my sons.

Alice and Martin Provensen were a husband-wife team of author/illustrators who won just about every medal and honor imaginable for their engaging and often humorous illustrations of children's picture books. They won Newbery and Caldecott Medals and were on the New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books list at least eight times. This book was chosen as a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year. Together, they illustrated over 50 books before Martin's death in 1987. They made their home in northern Dutchess County in New York and Alice still lives in their home there, called Maple Hill Farm.

Our Animal Friends At Maple Hill Farm is a large picture book that features whimsical and humorous information about many, many animal friends, domestic and wild, that live on or around the farm. It is not so much a story book, having no plot to speak of but rather it is a collection of charmingly illustrated descriptions and anecdotes about each of the various animal friends including dogs, horses, cats, pigs, sheep, cows, goats and several woodland dwellers as well. Each has a unique personality and niche within the scheme of things at the farm.

The book has many double page spreads of pictures with simple text, many full single page spreads and lots of pages that have numerous smaller pictures with text describing each of the pictures individually. The text in all cases is brief but descriptive and usually with a droll New England sense of humor that I found irresistible and so did my children. This is a book that we read over and over with a lot of laughter and fun and we never grew tired of it. It was always high on the request list of my boys. It is the kind of book that must be poured over so as not to miss a single one of its delightful details. The language is matter-of-fact and brings the animals to life in a memorable way that catches young attentions quickly. For example here is the text that accompanies a page that has pictures of three different cats.

"Eggnog is a Siamese cat. She is very, very old and she is never warm enough. Eggnog has a sweet nature, though she throws up a lot and hates to go out-of-doors. She is cross-eyed and has a lumpy tail.

Willow is Eggnog's niece. Her father's name was Potato Who Disappeared. Willow has beautiful eyes and an elegant tail, but she is not interesting. She doesn't play. She doesn't like to fight.

Gooseberry was named for the color of her eyes. She was a playful stray kitten who grew up to be a good gray cat. Now she has kittens of her own to play with.

And then there is...MAX."

Tra-la-la-la-lah....We are reading about the nice kitties and everything is sweet and charming but when we turn the page we see a double page spread of a HUGE cat with his paw covering what looks like it might be a mole.

The text says, "Max is Gooseberry's son. Max is BIG. He is still very young. He has a tiny, high voice and he likes cottage cheese. Max and Gooseberry are always spitting at each other, as you will see, but Max likes children and he likes to play. Max can be scratchy. You have to be careful when you play with him. He is not very clever with his claws. Max is clever enough to catch mice and rabbits and squirrels. It is not a pretty sight. He leaves gifts of guts and tails and chipmunk heads on the doorstep. Not a pretty sight either. But, then, no cats are vegetarians. It's not in their nature."

This is an example of how the text can be quite realistic yet have an undercurrent of humor. My kids loved it when I would pause, grimace and look at them and say, "It is not a pretty sight." Sometimes they would say it with me for the joy of it! The next two pages are a double page spread that displays 24 separate vignettes of the various activities of the cats. It is hilarious and you must do yourself and any children you know a BIG favor and share it with them. Cat lovers take particular note. You'll like this.

The book continues on describing the hens named Good Little Red Hen, Sweety and Other Hen and the roosters Lovelace, Pola Negri and Big Shot. Big Shot is a mean rooster who doesn't like children and he pecks at the hens and doesn't allow them to have their share of corn. Another page of vignettes shows lots of poultrylike activity including the bully Big Shot pecking at Sweety. The next picture shows a red fox making off with Big Shot in his mouth. Another grimace and comical dread from Mom and my boys hear the caption, "A fox is carrying Big Shot away." Mirth ensues!

Each group of animals gets the same royal treatment. The dogs are hilarious and so are the horses. Wait until you meet Evil Murdoch the gander. We learn, "Farm geese can't fly. When they see the wild geese migrating, they start to walk after them and have to be brought home again." The sheep, goats and cows each have their comical and lovable traits. There are short tales about some of the animals that used to live at Maple Hill Farm but who have left for one reason or another, some through death. A poignant and healthy explanation about the tiny animal graveyard in the woods underscores how loved and valued each of the animal friends is, has always been and always will be. Anyone who has ever visited or lived on a real farm knows there is constant activity and that the animals make every day a lively adventure. This book will certainly tickle your fancy. For children who have not visited a farm this book will open a doorway into this earthy and honest world that they are sure to appreciate.

The Provensens clearly know country life very well and have done an excellent job of making us feel right at home on their farm. Through their talents we come to know and love the animal friends at Maple Hill Farm as if they are our very own. Such personality they possess!

The illustrations have been executed in water-color and are rendered in the muted and earthy tones of Nature. The publishers say this book is intended for the 3-7 year old range and I think that's about right but the 5 to 7 year olds will appreciate the humor more.

I love this book because my children loved it so. It never failed to make them laugh. It never failed to make them ask questions and it never failed to make them take intense second looks at each picture. They wanted to stay on every page until they'd gleaned every ounce of fascinating detail. I love this book because it is one of the memorable books that helped make them eager listeners and eventually eager readers. I still love this book, 30 years later, because I only have to open its pages and my little boys are here with me once more. I think of their dear faces and chubby little hands and in my mind, unlike Max and the mole, it is a pretty sight. I cherish this book. I hope you'll find a copy to read to children you love ( )
2 vota Treeseed | Feb 19, 2008 |
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Describes animals on the authors' own farm in New York: dogs, horses, pigs, geese, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, cats, and more!

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