Friday, November 28, 2008


 Over the last few years, I've experimented with multigenre research reports. I've also begun working on integrating more technology into my teaching. I haven't done much with photo essays, but after reading OUR FARM: FOUR SEASONS WITH FIVE KIDS ON ONE FAMILY'S FARM and WHAT THE WORLD EATS (reviewed yesterday), I'm ready to give it a try. In OUR FARM, author Michael J. Rosen follows Dave and Becky Bennet and their five children- Caleb (17), Chase (15), Cayne (10), Grey (8), and Ali (4) through a year on their farm in rural Ohio. The family raises cattle, alfalfa, a small flock of chickens, and also has a vegetable garden. 

Rosen has divided the book into an introduction, then has a chapter on each of the four seasons. Each chapter begins with a "By the Numbers" page, which I found fascinating (did you know the average cow eats 25-35 pound of hay a day, but produces 65 pounds of manure? That is really right, it's not a typo!). The remainder of the chapter is a series of 1-4 page spreads on various topics related to the farm. Some are about the animals- the dogs, rabbits, cattle, turkeys, etc. Some are about the work on the farm, topics like birthing calves, corralling cows, baling hay, etc. Others are about the fun of living on a farm- building a treehouse, playing in the hayloft, swimming in the pond, etc. One of my favorites was a four-page spread with a picture and description of different kinds of farm machinery. Rosen typically begins each section with a brief introductory paragraph, then the rest is told by different members of the Bennett family, usually 3-5 speakers per section. The heart of the book, though, is the million color photographs which truly do capture life on a farm.

If I had any doubts before, OUR FARM has truly convinced me that a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm ready to try the genre of photo essays. Does anyone have any suggestions?

1 comment:

Michael J. Rosen said...

Hello, Carol,
As the book's author and photographer I just want to say how gratifying it is to hear that the book connects to you out in Denver. That the story of a small Ohio farm can be, perhaps, a window into another world for you, and, I hope, a mirror for kids who do share a version of that rural life. All authors probably think of their works as "labors of love," but this book, as it involved sharing so much of another family's life, gave a whole new investment to both the ideas of "labor" and of "love." With my deepest appreciation for welcoming "our story" into yours.