Prather’s Pick: ‘Goodnight Moon’ author spins cozy tale of life in a barn
This week’s picture book isn’t a Halloween book, but it takes place in late fall — maybe even in October. Whenever it is, the leaves have changed color, the corn has been harvested, and the weather has turned cooler.
“A Home in the Barn” was written by Margaret Wise Brown, author of “Goodnight Moon,” a children’s classic. It was illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, who has received a Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honors, and a whole bunch of other prestigious awards for his illustrations.
In an “Artist’s Note,” Pinkney writes that, while there are animal characters in the book, “two supporting actors are the blustery wind and the barn itself.” He decided to paint the barn red, because it is a place of warmth and safety.
The book’s story is told in verse. It begins:
“Here is the barn
“Hear the wind rattle
“Open the door
“And see all of the cattle.”
There are lots of cattle in the barn, indeed, and lots of other animals, as well. It’s a good thing the barn is big. Cows, calves, a bull, and some goats eat hay. Besides that, there are pigs, chickens (even some chicks), and a cat. And, there are more animals to come, because a cold wind is blowing. The narrator invites other animals to come into the barn where it’s warm.
The reader finds some field mice in the corn stalks. They have lived in the field all summer but have decided to take up shelter in the barn. Perceptive readers will notice some insects that have formed a line, perhaps on their way to the barn, too.
The next morning, the mice, now in the barn, are getting ready to go to bed. Some bats are just coming home from a night out. The swallows wake up in their mud nests they built in the barn’s rafters. Sahari, the bull, wakes from a dream and raises such a ruckus he scares the calves.
Outside, the wind has really started to blowm and leaves are floating by the barn window. The horses have decided to go to the barn. When Farmer Jonathan and the farm dog come to the barn, it is starting to snow. The farmer finds a surprise in the barn.
This picture book is sure to leave the reader feeling warm and cozy. The beautiful illustrations were done in watercolor, gouache, and pastel.
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, the hardcover book costs $17.99. It is a 2018 book and is also available at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.