Tag Archives: martin provensen

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

By Alice and Martin Provensen. Aladdin Books, 2001

Who lives at Maple HIll Farm? People live here. Two dogs and five horses live here. A pig lives here. Then there are — some geese, lots of chickens, a few cows, a few goats, several sheep, and four special cats…

I can’t imagine a better picture book for any animal-loving kid. On each page are illustrations of the dogs, horses, pigs, cats, chickens and goats who live (or used to live) on the author’s real Straatsburg, NY farm, followed by verbal snapshots of their unique personalities. For instance, the big rooster, aptly named Big Shot, doesn’t like children. Willow the cat “is very beautiful, but not very interesting.” And Whiney the sheep is always lost and never knows where the gate is. My kids can look at these gorgeous, simple drawings forever. We’ve decided we all want to live at Maple Hill Farm.

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The Year at Maple Hill Farm

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By Alice and Martin Provensen

Aladdin Paperbacks, 1978

In summer the fields are full of flowers. Goats and sheep like flowers. Bees like flowers. Everyone likes flowers…In summer the grass is hopping with fleas. No one likes fleas. They bite.

As the preface promises: This is a book about farm animals and what happens during one year on a farm. Alice Provensen and her late husband, Martin, took a steady look around their Straatsburg, NY farm, and chronicled what they saw each month. The illustrations — sometimes as many as seven on a page — have an intimate, unhurried feel to them, something you’d expect to find your art major college roommate doodling in a notebook when she should be taking notes.  And the text is full of joyful observations like so: Almost asleep in a puddle of dust, a dog will still wag his tail as you walk by. A bonus: you’ll learn how to pill a sheep.

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