________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


The Farm Team.

Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-850-4.

Subject Headings:
Farm life-Juvenile fiction.
Courage-Juvenile fiction.
Hockey stories.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Geneviève M.Y. Valleau.

**** /4


Farmer Stolski's farm was way up north where the ponds stay frozen most of the year. Winter lasts for ages there, and the farm animals might have grown tired of it – except for one thing. Hockey! Those animals loved hockey. The first snow barely had time to hit the ground before they were lacing up their skates. And oh, the excitement! Steam rose as the pigs passed the puck. Feathers flew as the ducks took shots. And when the goats hit the boards, you could hear them all the way to Winnipeg. Every animal had the same dream. The Stolski Cup!

Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin have teamed up once again for the captivating picture book, The Farm Team. The author and the illustrator have worked together on numerous books including Stanley's Party, Stanley's Wild Ride and the “Good Times Travel Agency” series, and each of these books has been well received by children, parents, teachers and librarians alike.
internal art

     Like the previous books that this author and illustrator team have worked on together, The Farm Team is filled with humour, cleverness and charm. Farmer Stolski's farm animals wait all year just to play hockey. For fifty years, they have desperately tried to win The Stolski Cup, however, each year they lose the coveted cup to the Bush League Bandits. But this year is different. The Farm Team, whose roster is made up of a couple of pigs named Little Pete and Big George, a chicken named Mariette, a goat called Billy, Betty the cow and, of course, the horse, Coach Clyde, have been practising every day and feel as though, with each practice, they are improving. When the fateful day of the Stolski Cup arrives, the Farm Team realizes that the Bush League Bandits are not playing fairly and that the only way the Farm Team is going to beat them is by putting everything they have into the game.

     Similar to Stanley's Party and Stanley's Wild Ride, Bailey tells the story of the fun games and situations that animals get into when people are not looking. She uses amusing and descriptive language to enhance her hockey story, and her tale would stand on its own even without Slavin's lively illustrations. Bailey is a wonderful storyteller, and her strong narrative voice enhances her story.

     That said, Bailey's imaginative story is heightened by Slavin's comical illustrations. Because Slavin uses acrylics on gessoed paper, his images have a rich texture which adds to the depth of the scenes he is creating. He uses a soft colour palette and plays with the frames of the images so that there is usually something that breaks out of the frame. Slavin's depiction of the characters of the story is just as humorous as Bailey's descriptions of them, but he has added his own comical details to each of the animals.

     Because of Bailey's strong narrative and Slavin's wonderful illustrations, The Farm Team would work well in a read aloud. This picture book, along with the other books that this author illustrator team have collaborated on, is sure to become a classic for any child, animal lover or hockey fan.

Highly Recommended.

Geneviève M.Y. Valleau is currently enrolled in the Master's of Arts program in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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