Monday, March 17, 2008

Non Fiction Monday: Down on the Farm

Having grown up in an agricultural community where I worked on my brother-in-law's dairy farm through high school, I was drawn to the cover of this book. In fact, my experiences on the farm probably have something to do with my choice of careers, I knew that I didn't want to work that hard for the rest of my life! Farmers spend long hours, working extremely hard to keep the rest of us in food and other necessities. They do not get the credit they deserve for feeding the world.

Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More by Cris Peterson is a book kids can read an look at many times over and always learn something new. The photos by David R. Lundquist complement the text to the point that they almost stand alone.

It has been my experience with kids that don't have that rural background, don't understand that milk doesn't just come in a plastic jug at the supermarket. They are not aware all of the steps that come before they pour over their cereal in the morning. This book explains the whole process from the birth of the calf to the tanker picking the milk up, with picture of all the steps along the way. In addition to the production of milk, it covers how large dairy farms use the cow by-products, okay, I'll say it, manure to produce bedding for stalls, (I didn't know that) electricity (I didn't know that) and electricity(I knew that). The book shows how cows' digestive systems work, shows a diagram of the four, that's right FOUR parts to the cow stomach. It even describes, in detail, how the the stomach holds 25 gallons of stuff when it's half full and that one section works like a "huge churning, bubbling vat where bacteria and other microorganisms break down the tough chew feed into nutrients." Can't you just hear your students' reactions to that description!? The text in the book is very kid friendly and most third to fifth graders will be able to read and understand it.

David R. Lundquist's pictures are detailed and close enough to their subjects that the kids will get a clear vision of what life on a dairy farm is like. My favorite shows Clarabelle up close enough to see the saliva bubble hanging from her mouth, AWESOME! Another page shows Clarabelle's calf so soon after birth that it is still wet, EXCELLENT! Younger readers will get plenty of information from the pictures alone.

This is the kind of non fiction I enjoyed as a kid, and I still do!

The Non Fiction Monday round up is Picture Book of the Day.


  1. Oooh, thanks for the review. I can't wait to read this one. It's on order at my library.

  2. Long hours, hard work, and no credit for what they think you DID pick that profession!

    And I'm just waiting to see what else gets tagged "manure" on your blog!!!!!

    Sorry. I'm a little punchy on Monday afternoon. Great review. Looks like a fun book for city and farm kids alike!