Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Lester ( Imagine ; Isabella's Bed ) opens the barn door, as it were, upon her recollections of life on the Australian farm where she grew up. Family members are introduced up front; the reader then follows the various characters through the ups and downs of one year. As narrator, Lester also lets readers in on some more personal matters--such as her longing for a new pony or her attempts to become famous. Summer days, she reports, were filled with driving ``mobs'' of cattle, picking blackberries and, perhaps, taking a swim. Australian autumn brought new calves, rainstorms and mushrooms; after a winter spent doing chores, springtime marked the season for ``tadpoling and fishing expeditions'' as well as baling hay. Children will likely be fascinated by the different seasons Down Under. Lester's fond remembrances contain dollops of humor and tenderness, and a wealth of information about farm life can be inferred. Through it all, the author/artist's childlike sensibilities keep the pace lively. Her somewhat pale watercolor palette accommodates each of the seasons, offering a pleasant glimpse at a foreign landscape. And her friendly cast of kind-faced figures is truly likable. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 1-3-American readers will be introduced to a ``jinker,'' a ``bush run,'' and ``mobs of cattle'' in this gentle memoir. Spanning one year of her childhood on an Australian farm overlooking the sea, Lester's narrative begins and ends near Christmas time in the summer-perhaps a puzzling combination for northern hemisphere children. The scant story line-a child longs for a horse to replace deceased Inky-weaves in and out of the scenes of the everyday life of this family of four children. Such events as the Quietest Pony Contest, the dog high jump, a difficult calf birthing, and cattle drives are engagingly described. Illustrations are plentiful and intricate; varying sized panels (often three per page) create a design that adds great visual interest. The straightforward family portrait that stretches across the top of the first page is particularly charming, introducing each member astride a horse or motorbike. The author's writing and illustrating style is delicate. Her watercolors, neatly lined with ink; the highly stylized figures and faces; and the abundant detailing all contribute to this lovely picture book.-Lee Bock, Brown County Public Libraries, Green Bay, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ages 5-8. Lester, who grew up on an Australian farm, recalls what life was like when "we worked on the land together" the year her pony died. Soft, pastel watercolors picture the seasons changing as Mum, Dad, Charlie, Kate, Jake, and "me" care for the cattle through cycles of birth and death and as the children ride their ponies "like cowboys," splash in the creek, and play all sorts of wonderful games. The highlight of the year for "me" is the Christmas gift found waiting in the orchard--a palomino pony. Colored borders encircle attractive double-page spreads composed of variously sized pictures that whimsically and lovingly illustrate the words. Radiant with childhood delight, the book lovingly depicts intriguing particulars of everyday life in a faraway place, a place that seems both familiar and strange. Notes about terminology (for example, chooks, mob) and an explanation of Australia's seasonal differences are appended. ~--Stephanie Zvirin
Horn Book Review
In gently evocative watercolors and a straightforward first-person narrative, Lester re-creates four seasons at the family farm she grew up on in Australia. A childlike sense of wonder and amusement at the events that make up a year on the farm is conveyed, and life and death are shown as accepted significant facts of farm life. A note defines Australian terms and gives a calendar for Australian seasons. From HORN BOOK 1994, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A year in the life of an Australian farm, told by one of the kids (probably the young Lester, as a note at the end of the book suggests) in a gentle, understated tone. Readers are taken through the seasonal chores, from calving to roundup. It is a particular knack of Lester's (Isabella's Bed, 1993) to insinuate lots of faithful, suggestive touches into the story: autumn leaves sent spinning behind the running horses, brushfires casting an eerie yellow light, an orphaned calf dressed in the jacket of a dead calf so as to be adopted by the mother, a perfect fairy ring of autumn mushrooms. The cadence of the text is warm and comforting, with enough breaks and shifts of direction to keep it from becoming treacly. One nice twist is the minor confusion that results from the flip-flopping of austral seasons: It's fun to get caught out when you exclaim, ``That can't be!,'' and then remember where you are. Lester's illustrations are full of detail and care, instinctively right with either a sheep slaughter or a Christmas morning. (Picture book. 4-8)