A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, illustrations by Kristina Swarner. Albert Whitman & Company, 9780807556924, 2020
Format: ARC (Hardcover available October, 2020)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture Books
What did you like about the book? I have seen a few versions of this traditional Yiddish folktale over the years, but this book offers a fresh perspective. In this story, a farmer lives in a very tiny house with his wife and “too many children to mention”. He is very frustrated by the lack of space and constant noise, so he visits a wise woman in town to get some advice. She tells him to put all of his ducks in the house. This confuses the farmer, but he follows her advice and puts the ducks in the house. As to be expected, this makes things worse. He visits the wise woman again and she suggests putting all of his horses in the house and even all of his goats. By this time, his house is absolutely crazy with animals of all kinds running around his home. When he visits the wise woman once again, she tells him to get rid of all the animals in his house. Once the farmer does this, there are no ducks flapping, horses bucking, or goats chewing–and now the farmer has plenty of room in his house!
The illustrations provided by Kristina Swarner are perfect in showing the craziness of the crowded house and the frustration of the farmer. Even the children show mixed emotions about having all these silly things happening in the house. The illustrations are colorful, but with muted tones which give the book a sort of folk art feel to it.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children over the age of four years old. I also think it is a perfect story for families that are coping with tight quarters during the COVID shelter in place orders. I cannot tell you how many times I thought of this story during the spring of 2020!
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children over the age of four years old.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, a great lesson on being happy with what you have–done in a silly manner.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: June 18, 2020