When we went to the Seattle Bookfest in October, we briefly met author Amanda Lorenzo. Z admired the video for her Runt Farm books and she admired his bright yellow raincoat. When the event was over, she contacted us through the blog and asked if we would consider reviewing her books. Of course, since they had already caught Z's eye, we were interested! We recently received the first two books of the series and they turned out to be a cute set that are homey yet modern, friendly but not overly saccharine, smart, honest and accepting.
The first book in the series is Runt Farm: Under New Management, illustrated by Mark Evan Walker. It begins with Kitten, a youngster left behind when the Brunt family leaves their farm. He decides to stay in the barn and make it a comfortable home. The first night turns out to be a bit scary though and he is more than happy when an egg hatches the next morning and out comes The Peep, a duck that peeps rather than quacks. They have adventures together in the local pond until two super-intelligent mice, escaped from a local animal research facility, join them and really bring the group together. Cletus and Tooth are inventors, cooks, doctors and so much more. They make the barn a true home and the group a true family.
These are short chapter books with a good amount of illustration which makes them appealing as bedtime stories but also great for young readers. There are some longer words used that are defined in the back of each book -- both enabling kids to expand their vocabularies and to learn to look things up for themselves. I thought the subject matter was appropriate for most children although younger children may need an explanation about why some behaviors are not good choices. In the book the choices have consequences but it might not be clear why they were not the right thing to do.
Next is Runt Farm: Beatrice and Blossom. Beatrice is a bunny headed to market who falls off the truck and Blossom is a little lost squirrel. They also become part of the Runt Farm family and learn to be stronger individuals and better friends.
The language in these books is modern but also age-appropriate. The animals speak in ways that children might speak -- sometimes offending where no offense is meant, sometimes speaking their minds when it would have been better to keep something to themselves. These books have realistic interactions that will feel familiar to kids. But again, the reactions by other characters to these words should teach children that it's important to consider the words we decide to use when speaking to others.
A third book in the series was released last month, Runt Farm: Clovis Escapes! Clovis is another mouse from the research facility and I'm curious to see what she will add to the mix. I can only imagine that each book in this series will expand the Runt Farm family into a large group of misfits that find that they actually fit together just fine as long as they have respect and love for each other.
At about 70 to 100 pages, these books are a bit wordy for Z (especially with Christmas taking up so much of his attention right now) so we have been telling the story through the pictures and will work up to reading the full text (although I did read the entire books myself). He adores the illustrations and the character names and also loves when they learn to solve their problems.
Learning and growing together in our family,
K and Z
Support our site and buy Runt Farm: Under New Management, Runt Farm: Beatrice and Blossom and Runt Farm: Clovis Escapes! on Amazon or find them at your local library. We received our copies from a publicist.