Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kids' Picks - September 2010 (Country Road ABC by Arthur Geisert)

5 Minutes for Books is holding a Fall Festival of Children’s Books this week and we are joining in the celebration by listing our favorite picture book this month. We live in the Midwest and both my kindergartener and toddler enjoyed reading this beautifully illustrated ABC picture book by Arthur Geisert.

Country Road ABC: An Illustrated Journey Through America's Farmland by Arthur Geisert; Houghton Mifflin (May 2010); ISBN 9780547194691; 64 pages; Copy from our local library

This isn't your ordinary farm book. It also isn't your average ABC book. County Road ABC captures a way of life - the life of farmers living in a small farming community, or more specifically, the life along Iowa County Road Y31. Like in his other books, Geisert creates the illustrations using a copper-plate etching process combined with watercolors and acrylics and the resulting pictures are extraordinarily detailed. Starting with A is for ammonia fertilizer and ending with Z is for z-brace, the letters of the alphabet help describe various aspects of country life. The text is rather sparse, but the illustrations ... Wow! They are amazing.

I've lived most of my life in and near small farming communities. The landscapes portrayed in the book, particularly the panorama picture that continues on the bottom edge page after page, accurately represent many of the country roads that I've traveled on. The book even depicts the seasons starting with the spring thaw and circling through summer, fall and the snowy, cold winter. The reader really does get a sense of what it is like living in a rural area. There's farm animals, a country church and graveyard, an abandoned one-room schoolhouse, a village parade, tractors in the fields, and even images of the volunteer fire department - this is the small town, rural Midwest that we know. My son's favorite part of the book is the page with the line of cars following a combine. That's not surprising, given the number of combines we've noted in the fields lately. My daughter commented on the page with the one room school and wanted to know more about the outhouses, one with the sun/star and the other with the moon. We had to look up more about outhouses online after reading the book.

Even though my kids do not live on a farm, they live near farmers and farming communities. I want them to understand the country life because it is in their blood. Their grandparents and great-grandparents grew up on farms. We still visit my grandparents' farm and drive on many country roads to get there. It's a way of life worth understanding. We enjoyed reading about it, experiencing it through the pictures in this book, and learning our ABCs along the way.

For more September kids' picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books and also check out the Fall Festival of Children's Books celebration.

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Jen U. said...

That sounds like a beautiful book! Thanks for sharing.
~Jen Unsell

Nancy said...

So many wonderful ABC books are out there these days. This one sounds like another gem, and a great way to teach your kids about the farming life.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fantastic ABC book - I'll have to check it out sometime!

katklaw777 said...

I live in a farming community and this book looks a step above your usual ABC book about farms. I can't wait to read it, thanks.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

This book sounds FASCINATING! Ammonia fertilizer?! Kiddo would devour this book simply to learn about odd things like that (we're not farming people in any sense of the word). I must go find a copy ...

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

I love the sound of the illustrations - ones which can be poured over and from which stories can spiral out. Lovely.

Unknown said...

That is a beautiful book! I am not an art-lover in general, but there are some picture books that just make me swoon.

Thanks for linking it up. Be sure to leave a comment on the main post at the Fall Festival of CB as your entry (the links aren't counted, so you have to leave a comment saying "I linked a review" or something).