Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Milkman

Cordsen, Carol Foskett. 2005. THE MILKMAN. Ill. by Douglas B. Jones. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525472088 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

Offering readers an opportunity to return to a time when life unfolded at a slower pace, Cordsen and Jones’s charming story chronicles the daily events of Mr. Plimpton, the town’s milkman, as he makes his rounds to deliver his dairy products as well as gifts for his customers and friends.

Using a toe-tapping rhythm, Cordsen’s punchy phrases are fun-filled as the rhyming lines share details of the morning’s activities of Mr. Plimpton and the community. The cheerful cadence is appropriate for this homage to this community servant. "First of morning, cold and dark./Rooster crowing. Meadowlark./Moon above the mountaintops./Loud alarm clock. Snoring stops." Mr. Plimpton’s generosity and service is highlighted throughout the delightful story as he leaves a “Get Well” card for a customer, a gift for a newborn child, and most importantly, finds Caroline’s missing puppy and returns it safely home. Jones’s retro artwork offers the perfect complement to Cordsen’s festive tale. Executed in shaded pencil drawings with colorful warm tints that capture the transition of the milkman’s morning work, Jones’s McCloskey-esque illustrations evoke an earlier time in American history, and young readers will be surprised as they are introduced to this lost tradition of milk delivery. Delightfully delivered, Cordsen and Jones’s tribute to this piece of the American past will leave readers of all ages smiling and wanting another serving.

Children could discuss the importance of heroes within their community and share qualities that make individuals heroic. After the discussion, students could make an individual list of their heroes and select one for a project. They could draw individual pictures of their hero in action, and make them into a book to be given to that hero.

Older readers studying art and illustration could analyze the stylistic elements in Jones’s work and compare it to other pieces of art for children. After looking at picture book art and comic illustrations, readers could select a picture book of their choice with unique art and create original illustrations in that style.

Other stories about community servants:
Scarry, Richard. WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ALL DAY? ISBN 0394818237
Zimmerman, Andrea and David Clemesha. TRASHY TOWN. ISBN 0060271396

By Rose Brock

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