Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Farm Friends: A Picture Book with Poems & Paintings by Wendell Minor

Would you like to take a young child on a virtual tour of a small family farm? A farm where poems and paintings give you a perfect picture of domestic animals and a country way of life that has been disappearing from our land? Then find a copy of Wendell Minor’s My Farm Friends. Let Wendell be the tour guide on a bucolic book visit that is sure to delight preschoolers.

My Farm Friends

Written and illustrated by Wendell Minor
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011

I asked Wendell if he could tell me what his inspiration was for doing this book. Here’s what Wendell said:

"The inspiration for My Farm Friends was my desire to honor my parents and grandparents who grew up on Illinois farms. When I was young I was often taken to farms, especially in springtime to see the baby animals. In fact, the first book I remember being read to me by my Uncle Andy (who also grew up on a farm), before my Dad came home from the war, was a board book about farm animals and all the different sounds they made...which I delighted in trying to emulate. I am still pretty good at it to this day! Just ask for a few impressions sometime."

Wendell added: “In creating this book I wanted to share the delight of my childhood with a new generation of children, many of whom may not have opportunities to visit a family farm in person.”

Here is a photo that was taken of Wendell with some of his pet chickens on a farm when he was three-and-a-half.

Wendell told me that Grandfather Minor's farm was the Highland Dairy Farm in Naperville, Illinois—and that his mother's family farm was in West Aurora, Illinois. “Unfortunately,” he said, “neither of those farms exist today, erased from time and place, left only to childhood memories.” 

Wendell opens My Farm Friends with a two-page spread of a multitude of farm animals welcoming visitors to their farm:

Welcome to the Farm

All kinds of animals live on the farm
Some live outside, some live in the barn
Furry ones,
feathered ones,
woolly ones too
Some things that they do
Just might surprise you!

Next, we encounter a rooster crowing as the sun is rising.
“Up and at ‘em, fellow creatures.”

Then it’s on to pigs wallowing in the mud.

a billy goat nibbling on a bandanna, a contented-looking turkey,
and other farm animals that are going about their business...

until the day concludes and the creatures are gathered together outside the barn.

Lots of baby animals
live on the farm too
And guess what—
They would all love to have
A visit from YOU!

This would be the perfect book to read to young children before taking them on a visit to a farm. Wendell’s domestic animals definitely have personality and charm. His verses are short and rhyming. I have little doubt that youngsters would easily—and happily—memorize most of them.

The book includes a section titled My Farm Friends Fun Facts where readers are informed—among other things—that goats are actually picky eaters, pigs can’t sweat and like to cool off in the mud, the average cow gives about 8 gallons of milk a day, and a male turkey’s gobble can be heard up to a mile away.

Come join me on a trip to meet My Farm Friends!


Anonymous said...

The illustrations look wonderful. I love Illinois farm country, and rhyming picture books to boot.

Bridget R. Wilson said...

Pretty pictures, farm animals, AND poetry??? Sounds like a winner to me. I grew up visiting my grandparents' farm and now my parents live there. Farms have a special place in my heart. Thanks for sharing, Elaine!

Life's Beautiful Path said...

Thank you for this review of Wendell's book. Love the illustrations. I have family who live in Naperville. Over the years I have seen all the beautiful farms disappear from Naperville. It is so sad. So much history lost.

Elaine Magliaro said...

There was a large dairy farm not far from where I love today. When I was a child, one of my uncles used to take me, two of my cousins, and his two daughters there on little Sunday field trips. We loved visiting the farm. That farm and other farms in my area of Massachusetts have given way over the past several decades to shopping malls and industrial centers.