Book Reviews: Arthur Geisert's Country Road ABC
April 19, 2010

“Like Elisha Cooper’s Farm (2010), Geisert’s latest picture book gives a refreshingly realistic view of contemporary rural life, from plowing fields and caring for livestock to chatting at the local diner. Each spread uses a letter to introduce a farm-related phrase, and the vocabulary, from ammonia fertilizer to the z-braces used to stabilize barns, is aimed at an audience older than the typical ABC crowd, although each phrase is explained briefly in an appended section. It’s the clever design and highly detailed color etching that stand out. On each spread, a scene illustrates the featured word, while the country road of the title runs along the lower half of each spread in an unbroken, continuous panel. A few dramatic scenes border on the abstract, such as the powerful silhouette of discarded objects that depict rust. For the most part, though, this offers snapshots of how farmers work today—not the cozy, idealized images common in picture books—and both city and country kids will want to return to its elaborately illustrated pages for repeated viewings.” --Gillian Engberg, Booklist

"In this loving record of the Midwest farm community in which he lives, Geisert (Hogwash) memorializes a way of life that has dwindled to a small population of stalwarts....Much visual information about farming is provided for lovers of tractors and farm animals, but it's more than a simple picture book; it's a deeply personal account, down to the list of thank-yous on the book's final pages, to the owners whose farms he's drawn.”--Publishers Weekly, starred review 
“Only someone who’s walked the walk and driven the tractor—and is immensely creative besides—could take readers on such an accurate, realistic and fascinating alphabetic farmland journey. With his signature etchings, Geisert has illustrated an amazing homage to American farms and farmers. The choice of letter descriptors conveys his ingenuity: A for ammonia fertilizer; B for barn cats; I for inoculate (pigs against disease); Q for quicksand; X marks the spot for country road Y31 (longitude and latitude); Z for z-brace on the barn door. The rustic, rural scenes are far from static: K shows a nettled cow kicking a startled farmer; O depicts three-people scratching their backs from the dust during an oat delivery. Outstanding composition of the diminutive and meticulous details makes hay with this close-up and wide-lens vista of farm life. A Continuous panorama of the same roads run across the bottom of the spreads, along with sharp eyes will pinpoint the teensy icon of the letter depicted amid the broad picture. A simply glorious barn and farm opus.”  Kirkus, starred review

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