Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ox-Cart Man

Our elementary school's used book sale was this week. Every year I find a treasure at this sale. Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, was this year's find.


The cover illustration really caught my eye. Well, no wonder, as this book won the Caldecott Medal.
The story is told very simply, but conveys so much about living simply and how there is a cycle to the seasons, and the tasks that go with those seasons.


It begins with the man packing his cart to take to market in October. "He packed a bag of wool he sheared from the sheep in April. He packed a shawl his wife wove on a loom from yarn spun at the spinning wheel from sheep sheared in April. He packed five pairs of mittens his daughter knit from yarn spun at the spinning wheel from sheep sheared in April."


It goes on to tell of the food from their garden, including the maple syrup they made by tapping trees and boiling away the sap.


The man walks 10 days to market, and sells everything. Then he buys things his family needs to make more things: an iron kettle, an embroidery needle, a Barlow knife. He also buys them a treat--two pounds of candies! I love that he buys them candies! There is some play among the work.

He walks 10 days home, and the family settles into another year of work, preparing things for themselves, and to sell at next year's market.

This book goes on my keeper shelf.