New York; Christy Ottaviano Books, 2013
It wasn’t easy being a poultry farming poet in turn of the 20th century New Hampshire; there wasn’t much money in it. However, in this beautiful watercolor, colored pencil, and acrylic ink picture book, Robert Frost’s life as a farmer-poet is told from the optimistic point of view of his oldest daughter, Lesley. In fact, much of the narrative about the family’s time at idyllic Derry Farm, before Frost was successful and famous, is taken from Lesley’s childhood journal.
In some ways the tone of the story is reminiscent of the Little House books in that the family is poor, but the children are unaware that they are missing anything important because of it. Life is full of language, love and the beauty of nature. Lesley seems quite proud that her papa does things his way, like the curious routine of milking the cow at midnight so he could stay up and have quiet time to read and write.
Bober skillfully weaves Frost’s poetry in to the narrative, showing how his work came from the delights of everyday life in New England, the last page including a few lines of The Road Not Taken in a lovingly autobiographical light. An author’s note at the end with facts and photographs of the Frost family and their homes mentioned in the story is included. There is a small collection of Frost’s poems, too. This is an excellent read alound for National Poetry Month and even a good icebreaker for a poetry unit for older students.
CCSS: Reading Standards for Literature K-5: Grade 1, Standards 1-9; Grade 2, Standards 1-7; Grade 3, Standards 1-10; Grade 4, Standards 1-10; Grade 5, Standards 1-10.
Dewey: 811 Interest Level: K-3
Awards & Reviews: Booklist, Hornbook starred, Kirkus reviews, Publishers Weekly Annex, School Library Journal.
Middle and Young Adult readers might like: A Restless Spirit: The Story of Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober.
Fiction pairing: Frederick by Leo Lionni