by Donald Hall, pictures by Barbara Cooney
“Then he sold his ox, and kissed him good-bye on his nose.” Author Donald Hall explains that Ox-Cart Man came “from a story that an old New Hampshire farmer told me. After I wrote the poem I later turned it into a book.” This rich story is beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney (Miss Rumphius). The farmer fills up his ox-cart with wool sheared from his sheep, candles, linen from flax he grew, birch brooms his son constructed, potatoes, honeycomb, maple sugar and the list goes on. After walking the countryside he arrives at market. He sells the wool, the candles, the linen, the brooms, etc., and finally his ox and cart. Once home he begins the process all over again---stitching a harness for the young ox in the barn who will pull next year’s cart. Readers young and old will appreciate this beautifully crafted picture book accompanied by Hall’s simple prose.
Note: Donald Hall is a U. S. poet laureate and a National Medal of Art recipient. He lived on the very farm where he spent summers as a boy and which became the background for the poem “Ox-Cart Man.” Also, Hall selected Barbara Cooney as illustrator because her New England heritage and artistic style seemed like a perfect pairing for this picture book. Cooney received the Caldecott Medal for this particular book which is a special 40th anniversary edition.
The farmer in this book whittles and carves just like your great-grandpa Grant did. I thought of both of you when I read this. I’m sure I have his pocket knife--I’ll look for it and show you the next time we come for a visit.
Remember when we all went to Castle Dale and watched Uncle Ken shear his sheep and then Aunt Valoy showed us the rug she made on her loom? Reading this book brought back good memories. Add this to your collection.
Look at the page where the farmer sells his ox and kisses him good-bye on his nose! Doesn’t that just remind you of Grandpa Jensen and his horses! Love this book---hope you do too. Give your dogs a kiss for Grandpa J.
Gift with: whittling knife, candle, wintergreen candy, mittens, or maple syrup.
Gift to: someone who works with their hands (quilter, wood worker, etc.), gardener, seamstress, animal lover, or naturalist.
Occasion: birthday, family get-together, or family road trip.