Craig Brown, author and illustrator
Harper Collins Publishers, 2002
Suitable for: Ages 5 and up
Themes: Amish Lifestyle, Community, Cooperation, Generosity, Neighbors
Opening/Synopsis: “After the fire there was no place on Jacob’s farm to keep animals. A neighbor made space for them in his barn.” Lightning strikes the family barn and a generous Amish community arrives to help Jacob’s father clear the land so that a new barn can be built. Friends and neighbors arrive from all over the county to help raise a new barn in one day. The women come with a feast of food to feed the workers.
What I like about this book: Craig Brown has written and illustrated a heartwarming story about how the Amish community comes together to help a neighbor in need. Brown’s illustrations are rich and detailed, depicting each stage of the barn raising. His illustrations are also expressive and emotive. You feel the strong bond between neighbors and friends. This is a beautiful story to introduce children to the Amish culture and talk about how neighbors support each other during times of trouble. In his larger illustrations of the barn raising, Brown includes close-up inserts which make you feel like you are helping. There is a page at the back of the book that gives more detail about Barn Raisings and the preparation required. This also is an excellent book for children interested in building and constructing. Check out Craig Brown’s fun website and view the books he’s written. He’s known to school kids as “Farmer Brown.” I had the opportunity of meeting Craig Brown at the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference this summer.