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One Horse Farm Review by Melissa Cummings

By Dahlov Ipcar
Islandport Press
PO Box 10
Yarmouth, Maine 04096

People grow up and times change, but some things--like family ties, lifelong friends, and beautiful traditions--are ageless. Dahlov Ipcar has written and illustrated One Horse Farm using personal experience, sharing little glimpses of her own past as well as her husband's to depict some of these ageless things. Her words and paintings aptly portray the variety of farm chores, the glories of the changing seasons, and the bittersweet quality of growing up. This is a classic tale with a retro feel to both the writing style and artwork, which has a limited color palette that is stunningly eye-catching. With strong lines, the detailed art displays the author's giftedness and her obvious familiarity with her subjects.

A foal is born on the farm the same day Johnny (the farmer's son) is born. The story takes us through the years; we watch the little boy grow in stature as well as physical capability as he works on the farm alongside his family and their animals--not least of all, the quick-growing foal, whose name is Big Betty. Contrasting the quick growth of the foal to the slow growth of the boy and traveling through all four seasons, the short and sweet storyline contains a lot of diversity and development. Describing through words and pictures all the farm chores that Big Betty was able to beautifully accomplish--and the chores that Johnny slowly grew into--the story shows the diversity not only of the strapping, faithful horse but of the quaint Maine farm itself.

First published in 1950, One Horse Farm remains a timeless classic. It's available for a great price--only $18 for the hardback version--and would make a beautiful addition to anyone's bookshelf. Not only is it a great storybook for all ages, but it is a fun book for early readers that will spur great conversations about seasons, farm life, growing up, working hard, and loving animal friends.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2011