Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Read Me a Story: Tuttle's Red Barn

How many times have we passed an old home, barn or other structure and wondered about the people who once lived or worked there?  Tuttle's Old Farm tells a story of American settlement and farming traditions through the history of one family's Dover, New Hampshire farmstead.  By a near-miracle of procreation and dedication, the Tuttle Farm has remained in the same family since John Tuttle arrived in North America in 1632.  Author Richard Michelson proceeds generation by generation through the many Tuttles between John and the most recent heir, who was born in 1997.  Caldecott winner Mary Azarian's beautiful illustrations well complement the pastoral yet sweeping story, which touches upon family life, farming practices, the material culture of the home and changes in the broader economic landscape from early settlement through the end of the twentieth century.  Pinning all of these changes to a single family helps children identify with what might otherwise be impersonal facts and trends.  Today, the Tuttle family operates a large farm stand and adjacent nursery.  I don't need much of a reason to visit New Hampshire -- I love the place -- but if I needed one, paying the Tuttles a visit would suffice.  Meanwhile, I very much enjoyed Michelson's book.

Richard Michelson, Tuttle's Red Barn: The Story of America's Oldest Family Farm, illus. Mary Azarian (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2007).

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