By Michael Garland
Published by Boyd Mills Press, 2011
Themes: Generations, farms, tractors, modernization, memories
Opening/Synopsis: “Grandpa Joe and Timmy were going to see the old farm where Grandpa Joe used to live when he was a boy.”
This is a charmer; a story about a love affair with a red tractor; a story of sharing of memories. Grandpa drives Timmy out to the abandoned farm where he grew up. They see the dilapidated barns and silo, the run down house, and the rusty old red tractor. With each page turn, Grandpa Joe’s excitement and enthusiasm grow as he recounts all the year round essential activities his father used to do with that old tractor, often with Joe at his side. The present fades into the past and we see the tractor hauling wood through the winter (It feels like this is set in New England) and collecting barrels of apples in the fall. The urban scenes of the opening pages, give way to Garland’s beautiful rural landscapes. By the end Grandpa has painted such a vivid picture of life as it was in his youth on this vibrant farm, that Timmy has truly ‘experienced’ some of his grandpa’s childhood.
Why I like this Book:
This is a beautifully illustrated tribute to a trusty Farmall tractor and to a way of life that is forgotten or unknown by most. Grandpa Joe’s memories and Garland’s trademark watercolours transform a rusty, redundant, abandoned machine into the glorious heart and soul of most farms half a century ago in rural America. The relationship between Grandpa and Grandson is heartwarming in an era of generational separation, and Timmy’s thankfulness for the sharing and trip are a fitting ending to this sweet story. Rather like Grandpa Green, this book does lend itself to be read by a grandparent or someone of this generation! Garland takes up the entire two pages for every spread, and I can promise you that you will feel like you have just had some good fresh air after romping through these pastoral pages. Michael Garland shares at the back of the book how a rusty old tractor he had driven past locally for years, was the inspiration for this story, and how he had knocked on the old farmyard door and interviewed the retired farmer about the life and times of the red tractor! As a writer, this reminds me to stay observant at all times for those story ideas.
A great Down on The Farm resource site.
Each child could ask a grandparent/older carer to share a childhood memory.
To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays badge in the right sidebar.