Harvest Home

 

There is an old English hymn called "Harvest Home" which I love, and autumn–with its gathering-in–is my favorite time of year. So when I heard the line repeating in my head, "Bringing the harvest home…" I knew there was a poem to be written. I didn’t yet know it was a book. As the poem grew, encapsulating (and probably romanticizing) the harvest time of a Midwestern farm family, I realized it was a picture book. In the end, with a good assist from my editor Paula Wiseman who kept asking for "More!!!" I got the poem sent off. (John Ciardi says that a poem is never finished, it is abandoned.) We both agreed that Greg Shed–if we could get him–would be the perfect illustrator for the book. His golden harvest colors glow and shimmer. The heat of that day practically lifts off the page.

My husband, who as a boy used to take part in just such harvests on his grandparents’ farm in West Virginia, says I got it just right except for the itch in the back of a sweaty neck caused by seeds. He is not an easy critic to please.

What reviewers have said:

  • "Shed’s elegant, yet earthy, portraiture and Yolen’s dignified language combine to transcendent effect; although the costumes (straw hats, plain pants held up by suspenders, and simple cotton dresses) might seem to indicate a different era, the work could just as easily be set in modern Pennsylvania Dutch country." — Kirkus
  • "This glowing collaboration celebrates a way of life that has all but disappeared in much of the modern world…. . Shed’s sun-kissed, gouache-on-canvas illustrations, filling almost three-quarters of each spread, are a fine and fittingaccompaniment to Yolen’s text. A reflective and respectful tribute to a bygone era." — School Library Journal
  • "Beautifully told in rhyme, Ms. Yolen captures the spirit of harvest time. … The amazing illustrations take the reader to a special time and place, right to the heart of farming." — KidsBookshelf
  • “Harvest Home is a meaningful addition to the world of children’s literature. Its readers are encouraged to reflect on the toilsome process of harvesting, especially in years past when hand and horse were used to accomplish the task. The combination of Yolen’s descriptive language and Shed’s golden illustrations effectively convey the challenges and joys associated with this important task. The refrain "Bringing the Harvest Home" reminds the reader of the ultimate goal to bring in that which was sowed by each character including Grandma, Granddad, Ma, Pa, brother, sister, and neighbor. Obviously, the sense of community is an important concept in Harvest Home. Additional features of this book include a description of Harvest Customs and directions for making a harvest doll. This book is a valuable addition to units and/or discussions on the history of farming and the role of family in the process in years past and today. Harvest Home may prompt students to conduct interviews with farming specialists."–University of Minnesota
  • "Ursula and I read the book aloud at breakfast this morning, enjoying the simplicity, yet complexity of the rhyme scheme, the rhythms like those of a swinging scythe, the words building the scene and the relationships and the emotions of the central characters. I was thinking at once of a family choral reading, a schoolroom choral reading…and then I read <the> wonderful final page discussing harvest songs and giving directions for the corn husk doll."—Linda Peavy, author with Ursula Smith of FRONTIER CHILDREN

Available in hardcover.


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