Tag Archives: farm

Day 156 – The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree

Arnold lives with his parents in a little white farm house out in the country, and sitting alone on top of a hill at the farm is Arnold’s Apple tree. It is in this idyllic setting that Gail Gibbons’ “The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree” takes place, and where Ms. Gibbons – with the help of Arnold and his tree friend – walks readers through the changing seasons in a characteristically engaging manner.

apple treeThe book begins in spring, where we find Arnold lounging in the tree’s branches, enjoying the sweet smelling apple blossoms, and watching the bees collect nectar. In the summer, he builds a tree house to go with the swing he hung in the spring, and he does a juggling act with some of the green apples that have begun to grow large. In the fall, he rakes the falling leaves and gathers the delicious red, ripe apples in a basket to take home – where he and his family make apple pie and apple cider. In the winter, he builds a snow fort around his friend with a snowman sentry. The tree’s branches are bare – at least until Arnold decorates them with strings of popcorn and berries! Of course, after the snow melts…it’s spring again!

Just like most Gail Gibbons books, this book was full of great information and colorful illustrations. There is less information packed into this book than we have found in other Gibbons books, where many pages are filled with insets and callouts. “The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree” has more of a traditional storybook flow. There is an inset about apple blossoms and bees, an apple pie recipe, and a diagram of a cider press – but the focus in this book is clearly on the interaction between Arnold and his tree. It’s a charming book that helps explain the seasons to little listeners, and will make readers long to spend a lazy day around their own apple tree out in the country…at least, that’s how it made me feel!


Day 147 – Go, Little Green Truck

I like trucks – especially classic pickup trucks – and today’s storybook must have seen me coming a mile away. When I saw the snazzy cover illustration with the bright green pickup truck, I was a sitting duck. I had to pick it up – and I am glad I did. “Go, Little Green Truck” by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Julia Kuo is a cute story (and a beautiful book) about family, redemption…and farmer’s markets.

little greenWhether he is hauling food and livestock around the farm, or running errands to the post office and grocery store, Little Green is about as proud as a little truck can be. Every day he works hard to help Farmer Gray and his family…until one morning Farmer Gray brings home a brand new truck – Big Blue. The Gray family farm is growing, and Farmer Gray is proud of his big new truck, which can take on even bigger jobs that Little Green could handle. Little Green is retired, and left in the meadow to rust.

Missing Little Green one afternoon, Fern Gray – Farmer Gray’s daughter – walks out to find the abandoned truck and curls up in his bed with her cat. When her father and mother find her, Fern suggests that they use Little Green to haul vegetables to the farmers market; Big Blue, she says, is too big and bumpy for the city streets. The family works together to clean Little Green, and Fern even paints some animals, foods, and flowers on him. Everybody at the farmers market loves Little Green, and he starts to feel better and better because, well, now Farmer Gray always uses Little Green for his smaller, gentler jobs, while Big Blue gets the heavier ones. Everyone has their role on the Gray farm, and everyone is happy!

We really enjoyed this story. We appreciated the focus on family, the idea of shopping at the farmer’s market for food fresh from the fields, and (of course) the trucks. Despite my affinity for the trucks, I think our oldest actually was this book’s biggest fan. She really loved the illustrations – which have a pleasing combination of vibrant colors, clean lines, and a style that is rather unique. Two (green) thumbs up!


Day 107 – How Does My Garden Grow?

Today, in keeping with one of our monthly themes, we read another spectacular Gerda Muller book: “How Does My Garden Grow?” The book is crammed full of information about gardening, with language that is easily accessible to younger listeners. Ms. Muller (as she always does) decorates the pages with her wonderfully colorful, expressive, and comforting images. In this particular book we enjoyed the illustrations of a family working together to plant, tend, and harvest crops on the farm.garden

Sophie is a city girl, but this summer she is going to stay with her grandparents on their farm in the French countryside, where she is looking forward to doing all kinds of fun things in the garden! Over the summer Sophie learns about planting seeds, mulching, composting, and caring for the vegetables in the garden.  She learns about the impact – both positive and negative – that birds, insects, worms, burrowing mammals, and even bats (!) can have for plants on the farm. Perhaps most importantly, she gains an appreciation for the mouth-watering flavors and amazing varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be grown on the farm. Even when the summer ends and she must go back to school, Sophie keeps coming back through fall and winter to visit and help around the farm. At the end of the year, Sophie is sad to be packing up all the gardening equipment for the winter, but her grandfather has a surprise present for her to help her feel better when spring rolls around: a package full of herb and vegetable seeds to start a garden in the big city!

I have had my eye on this book ever since it was placed in our April basket because of the beautiful cover image of Sophie watering plants plants in the garden – surrounded by artichokes, carrots, beets, and a towering tomato plant. Ms. Muller does an excellent job, as we have seen her do in other books, of telling a compelling story that also happens to be a great learning experience. I love the emphasis on family, on spending time outdoors, and on enjoying fresh home-grown produce. The large format of the book really does Ms. Muller’s illustrations justice – it is a stunning overall production and a joy to flip through again and again.

Day 94 – Where Do They Go When It Rains?

Inspired by April showers, one of the themes we are exploring in our reading list this month is the water cycle. We’ve gathered several books that touch on this theme, including our Sunday evening read aloud picture book “Where Do They Go When It Rains?” by Gerda Muller. It is a lovely story about children exploring outside and reveling in the beauty and wonder of nature, complete with Ms. Muller’s characteristically delightful illustrations.

WhereMarion and Luke are twins who live in an apartment building in the big city. On this warm, sunny morning they head out to visit their cousin Stef at the country house where he lives with their grandmother. The twins spend their day with Stef, wandering the countryside: chasing grasshoppers, laughing at sparrows taking dust baths, visiting with the animals on a nearby farm, and wading in a shallow pond to find a snail for Stef’s fish tank. Before making it back to the house they are caught in what I assume is a spring shower, which leads Marion to ask the question in the book’s title: “Where do (the animals) go when it rains?”

As they walk back to the house Stef and the twins find the answer to their question by observing how each animal they pass reacts to the rain. Some hide under leaves, some huddle against a fence as a shield from the wind, and some seem not only unperturbed but rather invigorated by the wet weather. Perhaps inspired by the ducks playing in the pond, and already too wet to care about staying dry anyway, the three explorers begin an impromptu dance in the rain, splashing and playing in a big puddle…and that is where grandma finds them. After donning some dry clothes, and downing some hot chocolate, the twins see a beautiful rainbow from Grandma’s porch, complete with a little science lesson from Stef; he tells them how rainbows are formed, and how they can find one in the sky.

“Where Do They Go When It Rains” is vintage Gerda Muller: the illustrations are detailed, colorful, and charming and they convey a childlike wonder that I can imagine the twins must feel as they marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds grandma’s country house. I particularly enjoyed the comforting idea of just enjoying a carefree day in the country, and the joyful abandon on display as the twins and Stef splash around in the rain. We also appreciated the lesson on rainbows toward the end of the book – right on time for “National Find a Rainbow Day!” It’s always gratifying to find a book that combines a great story with attractive illustrations and bit of information about how the world works. Gerda Muller books are wonderful for that, and it’s one of the reasons why we have so many.