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Friday, September 4, 2009

Celebrating Nature and the Seasons

I recently purchased The Year at Maple Hill Farm to add to our picture book collection. Beginning in the month of January, the authors follow the farm animals through the year. This book is an enjoyable introduction for young children to months, seasons, and the activity of a farm. Alice and Martin Provensen's richly colored illustrations are a delight.

We picked up Town & Country also by the Provensens at the library. (I believe it is currently out of print.) Similar to The Year at Maple Hill Farm, Town & Country follows the seasons, contrasting the activity and scenery of the city with that of the country.





I also just finished up Nature's Serial Story, written in 1884 by E.P. Roe. The author begins the book during Christmas on the farm and wraps up the story a year later. The reader follows the months and seasons of nature and farm life, learning extensively about birds and their habits, growing crops, practical science such as latent heat, feeding chickens, and other information woven into the story, which happens to be a romance as well as a celebration of family life.

This book reminded me at times of Eight Cousins by Alcott, and other moments of The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter. An interesting book club discussion ensued regarding a certain era and category of books which were meant to be morally instructing, uplifting, and idealistic, but left a little (or in some cases, much) to be desired in subtlety, fascinating character development, rich plots, or salt-of-the-earth realness. E. P. Roe, in particular, had obvious points to make in each of his books. It is no surprise to the reader to discover that the author was both a preacher and a horticulturist. Nature's Serial Story was certainly meant to instill in the reader both appreciation and scientific knowledge of nature.

I have more to say on this subject (of morally instructing, uplifting, idealistic stories of romance, nature, and family life) which will come in the middle of an embarrassing confession, but that will have to wait until the next day or two. Grin.

Until then, I'll mention two other books while we are on the subject (are we still?) of celebrating nature and the seasons, over the course of a year. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a non-fiction read with a very obvious intention, but I found it to be a well-crafted, informative, and surprisingly entertaining story of growing one's own food over the course of a year. Or, if you are in the mood for something side-splittingly funny, try A Year in Provence.

9 comments:

Melissa Stover said...

funny sounds good. i'll check it out.

Heather said...

I'm working on planning a farm lapbook, and just this morning I was wondering if I might be able to find a book that looks at a farm in different seasons. Perfect timing! Thanks for sharing!

Heather

dancebythelight said...

As a kid we read "The Year at Maple Hill Farm" and I remember we laughedf our heads off!

Beth said...

I'll have to check these books out. Thank you for recommending them....sometimes it's tough going to the library with no ideas. It's nice to have some things to look for! The Town and Country book looks adorable, wish it were still in print.

Rockin' C said...

I just added The Year At Maple Hill Farm to our book collection as well. I absolutely LOVE it!

Renee said...

Thanks for the great book sellections! We haven't seen these books. Heidi, I was so excited about the lovely list that I just finished. It's already up on my blog! Thanks so much for the inspiration. This last project will affect me for years to come.

SmallWorld at Home said...

The Maple Hill Farm books were some of our absolute favorites when our kids were little. Such sweet memories for me!

Lora said...

We love the book *The Yeat at Maple Hill Farm*! The Ox Cart Man is a fave, too. I'll have to check out the others you've mentioned. Thanks:)

Heidi said...

Lora~ That is *too* funny. We read Ox Cart Man again after I put up this post (I hadn't read it for a while) and thought 'gee, that's a good one, too.' :)