Friday 4 October 2013

The Harvest Race

The Harvest Race by Em Horsfield, illustrated by Glen Singleton (Little Steps Publishing)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN – 9781921928888
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Inspired by life as lived by the Bromet family on their macadamia nut farm this tale’s cast of charming characters takes readers on a bonza ride that illustrates many traditional aspects of country life. It begins with Nosh the trusty Nutmobile waking up, happy that today marks his first ever entry in the harvest race. Not long after things start he finds himself in the lead, but trouble soon appears.

The greatest “Moooo”  causes harvesting to stop. Yep, it’s a cow. Or so we think. Turning the page, however, reveals it’s a whole herd. And a herd of cows can be destructive. Especially when they’ve spotted a paddock of luscious juicy grass. They trample a whole field of nuts not yet harvested to get to what they want. Farmer B is dejected. He can’t get his macadamias to market. What’s to be done?

Nosh wonders just that, until he realizes the answer is sitting right under the race’s spectators. Loaded up with the hay bales he and is driver, Max, lure the cows away. Sadly, that means they aren’t still racing against the others. So they harvest nothing. But without their heroic act no harvest would have happened at all, so really they are winners for saving the day. And everyone celebrates this.

The story is told in rhyme that scans well, using lively language. I especially like the repeated refrain used each time anyone tries to get the herd to “Moooove out, moooove out!”  Thoughtful and varied colourful illustrations are bold and busy enough to add a sense of action, without being so cluttered as to cause confusion. They present authentic characters and all the hallmarks needed to give readers a true picture of farm life and agricultural community.

Suitable for ages 4-8, this work’s final page contains information and expands the reading experience with simple activities that aren’t a strenuous lesson but that ensure readers pay attention and absorb all there is to see. It’s especially handy for those who have no experiences of rural life. Most of all, this book will be valued by anyone who enjoys maintaining traditions we hold dear.

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