The Peterson family farm is one hundred years old and about to enter a new century. Here, in wonderful family anecdotes, the author shares the story of the farm as it grew from a barn and house and granary in the 1890s to a thriving dairy farm in the 1990s. There has been plenty of hard work--sawing down the trees to erect the first buildings, the endless cycle of planting and harvesting, chopping firewood to keep the house warm--but there has also been golf practice on the pasture land, Sunday drives in the family car, and cross-country skiing in the meadows. Over the past hundred years many things on the farm have changed, but many things have stayed the same. There is still one family working together to make the farm a viable business. There is still one kitchen where cookies are baked and meals are cooked to feed family and friends and those who help on the farm. Filled with photos selected from a century's worth of family albums as well as dramatic shots from recent years, this NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book provides a glimpse into the past and the future of one American family farm.
Peterson assumes the likable voice of her husband, Gary, fashioning a folksy, lyrical portrait of the farm his great-grandfather started in the 1890s. "I grew up in the middle of the century in the middle of America on this middle-sized, Midwestern farm," says the conversational farmer. Throughout, the text emphasizes the many constants over decades that concurrently brought major developments. Visually, too, this warm volume is a pleasing mixture of old and new: Upitis's (who collaborated with Peterson on Horsepower) informal, contemporary shots of modern life are cogently paired with flashbacks, provided by sepia-toned photographs from family albums (e.g., Grandpa's tractor and Gary's share a spread, with a caption that contrasts the acre a day Grandpa could plow with the 25 acres his grandson plows today). Upitis's photos, taken over a period of a decade or so, allow youngsters to see Gary's children grow up and reinforce the sense of the farm's continuity. Peterson's theme is as clear as the Wisconsin sky in Upitis's photographs: though farming techniques and machinery, household appliances and fashions have changed radically in a century, the Petersons still catch fish in the same lake, all hands still pitch in to help birth a calf and, after the annual planting in the same plot of land, the corn "still reaches for the sun and whispers in the wind." Perhaps most valuable is the silent underscoring of the immeasurable rewards of strong family bonds and the fruits of hard work--a message worth carrying into the next century. Ages 7-up.