Escape from Baxters' Barn written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond
Age Range: 7 - 10 years
farmers’ secret would have remained a
One cold September, Burdock sneaks into the Baxters house to get out of the cold crisp air of the barn. While hiding behind the stove, he overhears Dewey and Grady Baxters arguing about what to do now that the farm is struggling. Burdock overhears Dewey plan to burn down the barn, so he quickly calls all the animals in the barn together to warn them. Together they come up with a plan to save themselves, which just might work.
Reading Escape from Baxters' Barn reminded me of Charlotte's Web, it has that same sort of classic feel to it. There are lovely detailed descriptions of the farm "The house was a faded yellow affair with a pitched roof and a covered porch on two sides. The old windows sat loosely and slightly askew in their casings, and the house’s paint, especially on the west side, curled up in patches like birch bark." Coupled with the pen and ink illustrations by Bond of the animals, barn and surrounding farm, all coming together setting a lovely cozy picture of their life. A picture that as the tension rises when Dewey sets his plans in motion, begins to show just the dangers that the animals really face. This would make for a lovely read aloud where children could make predictions about what will happen next, review the sequences of events, or even have discussions about the difficulties the animals encounter as they try to escape the barn. Each animal brings a unique skill in helping them to escape, and again predictions could be made about just what that skill is. This is a lovely story of friends coming together, what it means to be a true friend, and a moral message of what "if saving yourself meant abandoning someone else." Burdock is such a delightful character, who struggles over whether he should walk away. Mostly because he's always "felt like he was a pair of boots that didn't fit anyone." My heart went out to this poor cat. Just heartwarming when he comes to find out the valuable contributions that he made. There is also a smaller message that highlights the dangers of leaving your pet outside (there is a small flash back to when Burdock looses an eye in a fight with a coyote). A really important message about not leaving your pets outside, there are so many dangers out there people. Just a lovely touching story that ends happily, as it should. My favorite illustrations were of Burdock nestled on a quilt, and Noctua the barn owl flying off into the distance.
Escape from Baxters' Barn has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.