Award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan returns to her prairie roots once again for her latest picture book. MacLachlan imagines a five year old boy. She imagines his family out on a bare piece of land dreaming of building a barn. The spot is chosen, the land is cleared and plans are drawn. The barn is built over a long summer by family and friends, neighbors and townsfolk. All take pride in this building that is made to last 100 years. When the work is complete, a pine bough is set at the peak and all gather for a feast. A photograph is taken to remember this day. It is hung in the barn with a note tacked under it that reads, “The Hundred Year Barn Builders: August 1919.”
Over time, the inside of the barn is finished. There is a loft for hay, bins for grain, pens for cows, sheep and horses. Barn owls perch in the rafters, and foxes hide in the far grasses. Finally one summer, the barn is painted red. The boys and his cousins and friends play in the barn. The boy learns to do chores but then goes away to school. One day he returns to take his place on the farm.
Now in her 80s, Maclachlan once again gifts us with a work that stands alone as a well-told story. Embedded in the story are details that draw the reader into the heart and soul of this barn and those who love it. The story is enriched by the art of Kenard Pak in a style that is appropriately Shaker-esque in its simplicity and muted prairie tones.
It is not hard to believe that this barn is still standing 100 years later, as this book is published, and that it will be there 100 years hence. This is a book that invites a reflective read with young and older children and any adult who will take the time to join them.
Ages 4 and older. (HarperCollins)