Every detail in this book is heartwarming. You know that the author and the illustrator and the book’s publishing team put a lot of love and respect into bringing this story to readers.
From the moment you see the opening end papers, a forest and pasture ablaze with fall color, until you discover the closing end papers, that same forest with the snowy skeletons of those trees, you sense the care within.
It’s a story of a farm family who are very busy tucking their farm in for the winter. Unless you live on a farm, you likely have no idea there’s so much to do! Harvesting, putting food by, protecting the fields, preparing the hoop house, keeping the beehives safe from mice and wind … from big chores to small, this family’s love for their farm wraps around the reader like a fluffy quilt.
The book will open eyes for children who don’t know about farm life, but it also neatly tucks the details around us, giving us a satisfying look at a family who raise a variety of vegetables for themselves, winter markets, and their own farmstand. You sense the family’s deep level of caring for the land, the birds and animals, and the farm that sustains them.
“Dad cuts back the raspberries before wind and snow can crack the canes. … The promise of late summer’s plump fruit lies in roots tucked underground. Good night, raspberries, resting below.” So fine.
I was drawn to this book by the cover and illustrations. It’s those finely detailed, draw-the-reader-into-the-world-of-the-book, gently instructing paintings that complete the spell of Sleep Tight Farm. Those details include the icy whiteness of the book’s title on the cover and the informal friendliness of the body text. The farm kitchen is fascinating with stacked wood, a collection of painted pottery, rugs on the floor, and a fire in the pot-bellied stove.
When “We board up chinks in the chicken coop and set a timer to give the hens the light they need to lay eggs all winter” even the straw that lines the chicken coop and the feed for those chickens are included in the details. We learn a great deal about the farm by observation. How are eggs collected from the coop? Mom is pounding nails to “board up chinks.” There’s a variety of hens and a beautiful rooster. The family is wearing boots for their work. There’s a fence around the chicken yard. A chicken-strutting ramp leads from the coop to the ground. “Good night, chickens, snug in your coop.”
After reading this book, I feel calmer about the winter to come. And I want to visit this farm. Warm thanks to author Eugenie Doyle (whose family operates The Last Resort Farm in Vermont) and illustrator Becca Stadtlander and the team at Chronicle Books for creating this respectful, loving, and informative book. What a joy to read! It’s a keeper.