Thursday, January 24, 2008

Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More

Peterson, Cris. 2007. CLARABELLE: MAKING MILK AND SO MUCH MORE. Photos by David R. Lundquist. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills. ISBN 9781590783108 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

Informative books about farm animals have been gracing the shelves of children’s libraries for decades. This “biography” of Clarabelle the cow is exceptional, however, due mostly to the vividly clear and close-up photographs of Clarabelle’s home farm in Wisconsin. Food production is a timeless subject of curiosity for youngsters. This book addresses that interest with modern, realistic text and vibrantly appealing photography.

Boys Sam and Josh host the tour of Norswiss, their family’s dairy farm where Clarabelle lives. Readers learn that Holsteins do more than make milk -- they are actually “four-footed factories.” After the birth of a calf, Clarabelle is guided to the milking center where she is mechanically milked, while enjoying her cud to the sound of music. The text then follows her milk (and waste) along their routes toward becoming viable products. Josh and Sam pose with the newly-born calves, the specialized equipment, and even the glossary of terms at the end of the book. Their presence lends a field-trip feel throughout the book.

Besides the obvious science lessons of food production and farm animals, the style of this text provides an example of cooperation between humans and nature. The collaboration necessary to run an effective dairy farm could be translated to the shared effort required to run any successful business or classroom.

Books about cows and milk production:
Aliki. MILK: FROM COW TO CARTON. ISBN 0329131613
Flanagan, Alice. RAISING COWS ON THE KOEBELS’ FARM. ISBN 0516211331
Gibbons, Gail. THE MILK MAKERS. ISBN 0027366405

Books about life on other farms:
Bial, Raymond. PORTRAIT OF A FARM FAMILY. ISBN 0395699363
Purmell, Ann. CHRISTMAS TREE FARM. ISBN 0823418863

By Rebecca McKee

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