Growing Seasons

by Elsie Lee Splear and Ken Stark

Born on an Illinois farm in 1906, Elsie Splear is a frequent subject of the paintings... read more

Born on an Illinois farm in 1906, Elsie Splear is a frequent subject of the paintings of fine artist Ken Stark. A dozen and a half of his works featuring her rural childhood are reproduced in full or in part in this visual illustrated memoir. Most of Splear’s first-person written remembrances of her family’s tenant farm life describe what a growing girl would have witnessed or accomplished: gardening, bringing in the cows to be milked, cooking, and shoveling a path through the snow to the privy. The family’s first car is celebrated, and so is the weekly tub bath in front of the kitchen range. One painting and narration evoke an exhausted farm woman snatching a rest between tasks after hanging the wash on the clothesline. Another painting accompanies a detailed description of potato planting. Yet another shows the family waiting out a tornado in the storm cellar. Although most rural communities didn’t have churches with stained glass windows as immense as the one Stark chose to paint, this volume is fairly realistic in its renditions of rural life nearly a century ago. Older men and women living today may wish to embroider with their own details. (Ages 9-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2001

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