Miao! Who’s that peeking through the cauliflower leaves?
Meet Molly, a homeless orange tabby who wanders into a small community farm one Spring day and instantly captures everyone’s hearts.
Based on a true story, Molly’s Organic Farm (Dawn Publications, 2012), introduces young readers to the seasonal workings of an organic farm through Molly’s eyes. Curious and mischievous, she explores this wondrous world of giant cornstalks and row upon row of leafy vegetables, watching, hunting, and playing among the busy birds, bugs and critters who live there, some beneficial to the plants, others harmful.
The basic principles of organic farming and the marvelous interplay of nature are seamlessly interwoven with Molly’s activities, all gorgeously brought to life with Trina Hunner’s stunning illustrations. We learn about composting, companion planting, crop rotation, beneficial bugs and animal helpers, the importance of buying locally and the wonderful sense of community that’s established among those who share an interest in growing and eating healthy foods in a way that is gentle on the environment.
Readers are pulled right into the story via Molly’s endearing antics. Each of her discoveries is conveyed through vivid sensory details. She sniffs out the compost pile feeling the stickiness of the decomposing plants mixed with cow manure. She hears bees buzzing as they sip nectar, enjoys the cool shade of a sunflower plant, is a little startled hearing the “hissing scream of a barn owl” at night. Of course there’s always time for a catnap alongside the tomato plants and a tasty treat at the Farmer’s Market come Autumn. Yum! And when the farm is eventually put to bed during winter, Molly stays safe and warm in one of the farmer’s homes.
There’s more: a rhyming couplet mini-story presented in small insets on every double page spread shows close-up views of Molly’s activities, defining moments of heightened emotion — tender (“Little girl giggles/Molly wiggles”), startling (“Sprinkler starts!/Molly darts”), tense (“An owl nears/Molly fears”). This poetic, cut-to-the-chase tale is just right for younger readers.
Hunner’s skillful use of perspective, warm and luscious earthy palette of greens, browns, rusts and reds, and spot-on feline postures and movements make every page turn a rich visual treat (the Farmer’s Market spreads are especially glorious). Fabulous end matter includes more interesting information about organic farming and the planting cycle, ideas for a Plant Part-y, print and online resources for further study, and best of all — “The True Story of the REAL Molly” (illustrator Trina Hunner met Molly at Mountain Bounty Farm (CSA), located in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California back in 2005).
Molly’s Organic Farm has earned a boatload of well-deserved accolades, including 2013 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2012 Izaak Walton League of America Book of the Year Award (Elementary Level), and 2012 Mom’s Choice Gold Award (Picture Books).
Readers will fall in love with this adorable green-eyed cat while learning to appreciate how the interconnectedness of living things affects the food they eat. It’s truly an appealing, well thought-out blend of fact and fiction that will leave little ones purring for more. Three paws up for Molly, the farm-loving feline!
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MOLLY”S ORGANIC FARM
by Carol L. Malnor and Trina L. Hunner
illustrated by Trina L. Hunner
published by Dawn Publications, 2013
Picture Book for ages 4-10, 32 pp.
Cool themes: nature, organic farms, cats, community
*Activity Guide available for download at the publisher’s website.
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*Spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2012 Carol L. Malnor and Trina L. Hunner, illustrations © 2012 Trina L. Hunner, published by Dawn Publications. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.