Once Upon a Farm (2002) by Marie Bradby, illustrated by Ted Rand.
I picked up this book because I was excited to see a farm book with a Black family. Let’s face it, in kids books, this is a rarity. In fact, in kids books, there are more animals running farms than people of color.
The book is like most farm books: kids doing chores, milking the cows, cleaning the barn. The family is seen tilling the land, building their house, and (in full disclosure) praying at the dinner table.
But as the kids get older, the book takes a turn for the sad. Excerpt below:
A mall a town been spreading around.
…A rabbit a farm they’re all gone.
…I took a heart full— things we didn’t sell— how a stream sounds, the way rain clouds look, how sweet dirt smells.
Marie Bradby has created a unique book that offers a poetic take on the loss of so many family farms, focusing in on one African American family’s connection to the land.
After reading children’s book after children’s book, I thought I knew how they’re supposed to end. The ending of Once Upon a Farm caught me off guard with it’s sweet remembrance and it’s quiet mourning for what’s been lost.
From the Colorlines.com article above: “These little babies … by the time they get to be in their 20s and 30s, the current racial and ethnic categories … won’t have anything close to the meaning that (they have) today,” Frey says. “When they think about white majority, it’ll be something in the history books.”
I hope there will be a huge shift in publishing to meet these new demographics. A lot needs to change in the next 20 years… or we will have to ask ourselves some tough questions as a country about education and access to culturally appropriate representations of what it means to be American.
Here’s a great post that focuses on how the publishing industry deals with children of color now.
Here you go, the penultimate book in the collection.
And, man, is it sad.
This book by Zetta Elliot (2008) is told from the perspective of a young boy who loves to draw. The boy ends up dealing with the deaths of two people in his life, his grandfather and his drug-addicted brother. It’s…
I’ve come across this book as well. True, it’s very sad but it deals with loss and grief honestly.
You know that kid that walks into your classroom on the first day and tells you his name is Jesse (when it’s really Jesus), John Paul (when it’s really Juan Pablo), or George (when it’s really Jorge)? You need to read them this book.
This book by Helen Recorvits (2003) tells the story of a…
“Rowling wrote Hermione to eschew stereotypes. She doesn’t end up with the hero; she is never there to function as Harry’s love interest. She prefers Arithmancy to Divination in school. Hermione is also a total badass, despite her prim and proper reputation. (…) So often, female characters are allowed to be aggressive or rebellious, but in exchange are stripped of any traditionally feminine qualities and instead are forced to pick up traditionally masculine traits. However, Hermione is never made to do that. Most notably, she is written to be highly logical AND emotionally expressive, a combination not commonly afforded to most of today’s leading ladies.”—Liz Feuerbach, The Women of The Harry Potter Universe (via writingadvice)