Reviews, Reference Material and Academic Studies

 PreviousHonors.html
    NextComments.html
   HomeHome.html
The StoryThe_Story.html
Notebooks &
Special VisitsNotebooks_%26_Special_Visits.html
Video, Bio,
HonorsAudio_Video.html
DVDDVD_Album/DVD_Album.html
National
TourNational_Tour_%26_Travels.html
Children’s
FunChildrens_Fun.html
SchoolhouseSchoolhouse_Pages.html
Parent
TeacherParent_and_Teacher.html
LinksLinks_and_Good_Read.html
 



  1.    Review   Gr 2-6-In this exceptionally well-designed book, life on a Midwestern farm at the turn of the century is exquisitely portrayed through the fond memories of Splear and the paintings of Stark, paired on double-page spreads. Those were the days of no electricity, no running water or indoor plumbing, when teams of horses worked the land and families were self-sufficient. Organized into a series of vignettes, the book begins with recollections of the kitchen stove, which was so central to their family life that, "-whenever we moved to a new house, the stove was the first thing to be taken off the hayrack and set up in the new kitchen." Each story is told in a relaxed, kitchen-table tone, inviting readers to learn more about threshing, wash day, gardening, chores, and Christmas. The subject of butchering is gently described and illustrated: "My sisters and I were unhappy when butchering time came around in the late fall." Stark's evocative paintings are filled with motion, life, and homey details. True to the nostalgic tone of the book, each one is flooded with cheerful sunlight. This would be a welcome addition for most collections, perhaps inspiring young people to have similar conversations with the elders in their own lives.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI

School Library Journal





  1.    When was the last time you got excited about a children’s book? Growing Seasons is absolutely lovely! Ms. Splear was born on an Illinois farm in 1906 and kept notebooks about what life was like growing up in rural America. She took her memories and, with the help of her daughter Carolyn and the talent of artist Ken Stark, created this memorable book. More than a lovely book, this gem gives us a slice of life through the seasons. The description of the kitchen stove and garden give us a wonderful taste of this simpler life. The memories of wash day, farm chores and planting and harvesting are informative as well as sweetly sentimental. The authors of this book have also given us a treasure chest of resources to use along with this book. At www.growingseasons.com you can get coloring pages, an entire teacher’s guide and set of related links to make this a neat unit study for your family. Carolyn has read the book on National Public Radio and has filmed an entire special for CSPAN BookTV Presentation. She loves to tell her story to others through workshops and media appearances.

The Old Schoolhouse



  1.     Stark's casein paintings are carefully detailed, taking pains to show the readers the unfamiliar household equipment of the time. Especially evocative of a time gone by.

Kirkus Reviews


  1.    [Author] Splear provides a very clear picture of the work involved in running a farm and the numerous skills required to keep the family clothed and fed. Whether he [Stark] is showing the four girls wading in a creek or men or threshing day, he bathes his nostalgic compositions in a glow of contentment, manifesting an optimistic faith in a well-done day's labor.

Publisher’s Weekly


  1.    Have you ever wondered what life was like a hundred years ago? Long before your parents were born? Or even your grandparents? This story tells of growing up on a farm at the beginning of the 20th century. Elsie Lee Splear tells us what it was like to be a child during that time. She tells of chores around the farm including milking the cows, helping with the planting and the harvesting. She tells us about lard soap, baths in front of the wood stove, making butter and canning fruits and vegetables. To find out what life was like 100 years ago, read the true story of the Growing Seasons by Elsie Lee Splear.

Nancy Keane’s Booktalks - Quick and Simple


  1.    The author describes events and times from her childhood. Each one-page recollection is paralled with a realistic painting of the vignette. One of the beauties of this book is how each story stands alone and the whole book becomes a family legacy. The format serves as a good model for collecting family stories.

Boise State University



  1.    This is the perfect book for older adults to read to children! Author Elsie Lee Splear, born in 1906 in northeastern Illinois, describes the life of a little girl on a farm at each season of the year in the early 1900s. Even though each person's childhood is different, this story opens up the perfect setting for adults to tell children what their childhood was like. The (Lee) family worked as tenant farmers and lived off the land. The children milked the cows and helped in the garden. There were few modern conveniences but they were a happy family. The illustrations are outstanding for their colorful, realistic detail. This book is a fine educational tool. It will spark interest in the history of farm life and in the midwestern part of the United States during the early part of the last century. -Doris Stauffer

Provident Book Finder
                                                                                             


  1.    Growing Seasons is the story of Elsie Lee Splear's childhood spent on northeastern Illinois tenant farms in the early part of the 20th Century. This true story is a valuable tool for providing elementary school students with an historical view of farm life at a time when "nearly everything was done by hand." The word images are enhanced by artist Ken Stark's paintings done from conversations with the author. The web site growingseasons.com provides images from the book as well as sections of Children's Activities and parent and Teacher ideas for using the book as a learning tool.Farm Bureau Ag Education Foundation

  2.    Stark's handsome illustrations and spot art are sun-dappled (and probably romanticized) as a happy memory, but they nonetheless provide as much information as the accompanying text.      

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


  1.    Ken Stark, a talented artist who met Elsie when he was five years old, has produced a wonderful suite of evocative paintings that do justice to a life marked by hard work, self-reliance, and pride.

The Orlando Sentinel


  1.    Gives strong sense of details and rhythms of their daily lives, a facet of the past that can be hard to glean from history books. A good source of social history.

Booklist



  1.    Reference, p. 98 Growing Seasons, by Elsie Lee Splear, illus. Ken Stark (Putnam, 2000). Follow the yearly rhythm on a small farm, where a family is raising both animals and crops, (AR 2, IR 3-5)

The Story of the World Activity Book Three: Early ModernTimes


  1.    Quiz No. 41743, Book Level: 5.1; AR PTS: 1.0; Language: English; Type: Nonfiction; Word Count: 3,946. This quiz is associated with the recommended reading lists of the International Reading Association and the Children's Book Council and the awards Smithsonian Notable Books and State award.

Renaissance Learning


  1.    In the era before electricity and indoor plumbing in rural areas, Splear recounts herding cows, planting potatoes and helping her mama feed the crew on threshing day. Splear's splendid social history is brought vividly to life through the paintings of Ken Stark, an artist and friend.

Central Florida Family Magazine


  1.    http://www.cerp.cornell.edu/directory/search_result_details.asp?pid=1104 Growing Seasons Growing Seasons is a non-fiction picture book about farm life at the turn of the last century, as told through the eyes of Elsie Lee Splear [1906-1996] and the paintings of artist Ken Stark. Nearly everything was done by hand - washing clothes with homemade lard soap, canning fruits and vegetables, butchering meat, and much more - before the advent of rural electricity, indoor plumbing and central heating. The accompanying educational website [www.growingseasons.com] is for the use of educators, students and parents. Frequent updates of the "Notebook" pages on rural life in the early 1900s. Grade level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Scope: all states Academic Subject: Arts, English/Language Arts, Home Skills/Consumer Science, Social Studies Agricultural Content: Agricultural Occupations, Farm Management, Agriculture past Author: Elsie Lee Splear Illustrator: Ken Stark Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons Copyright: © 2000 Language: English Product ID.

National Resource Directory



  1.    Today most of us are removed from what rural turn-of-the-century farmer's life must have been. This gorgeous book brings that time alive, season after season. The text relies on the author's memories of her childhood, as told to her daughter. It is full of nice descriptive details. The lush paintings by Ken Stark, a personal acquaintance of the author, makes the book a treasure! A wonderful gift choice.
    Parent Council



  1.    Daily life on the farm in the early twentieth century comes across vividly through the words of Elsie Lee Splear and the impressionistic paintings of Ken Stark in Growing Seasons, a fine picture-story book based on Splear's life. On each double-page spread, Splear recalls aspects of her life growing up with three sisters in the Midwest. They looked after the family cows, took shelter from tornadoes and pumped water for baths, working and playing hard, as the full-page illustrations show.
    Book



  1.    This lovely picture book celebrates the childhood of Elsie Lee Splear growing up in rural, northeastern Illinois in the early 1900s. At the urgings of her daughter, Carolyn Splear Pratt, the author wrote her memories and reflections of the hardships as well as the joys of farm life with her hard-working parents, three sisters and a variety of farm animals. Beautiful casein paintings add greatly to the charm of the first person text that emphasizes the changing seasons and how they influenced their lives. The very brief one-page chapters, each accompanied by a full-page painting, are arranged in seasonal order, from spring to early spring. They include topics such as planting potatoes, wash day, summer storm, and Christmas. This book should appeal to a wide age range and could be used for social studies, as well as for language arts and visual arts. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan

Children’s Literature Independent Information and Reviews


  1.    A gentle, moving and true story of Elsie’s growing up years on a Midwest farm in the early 20th century. She describes the turning of seasons, washing clothes by hand, making butter and bathing in a tin tub. Paintings which liven the story are by Ken Stark, who knows and loves the farm land which nurtured Elsie. If you are an adult from the Midwest, this book will help you tell your grandchildren about early farm life there, complete with the switch of a cow’s tail.

Grandma’s Book Letter




  1.    Beautiful paintings by Ken Stark couple with the unique voice of Elsie Splear

(1906-1996), whose account of her upbringing on an Illinois farm with her three sisters, Ma, and Pa, is now available to be enjoyed in this nostalgic book for children. During a time of no electricity, plumbing, or running water, Splear recalls in graceful prose the chores and duties required of her family in every season of the year.

Neat Solutions for Healthy Children




  1.    Teachers who use children's literature as an integral part of their curriculum are challenged to keep abreast of newly published titles.  Librarians who are supporting the classroom curriculum also have the same challenge.  Part of my role as a consultant is to support teachers and librarians in their discovery of new titles.  To do so I have compiled this list of excellent choices  of trade books for kindergarten through ninth grade.

I have read all the books on the list with an eye toward classroom use.  I receive thousands of review copies from the major children's trade publishers each year.  This access allows me to select from a variety of choices.  I may read from ten to fifteen titles to find one that will be on the list.  The list that follows is offered to teachers and librarians to save them time, and money.  The list is not intended to limit but to be a beginning for those who need to have some guidance.

EXCELLENT 2000 CHOICES OF TRADE BOOKS FOR GRADES K-9 

compiled and read by Marilyn Carpenter Ph.D., Eastern Washington University




  1.    I believe that this is a great story for children to hear from a teacher. It does let them know about how lives were different only a hundred years ago. It brings up many questions about how roles within a family have changed, or how they might have stayed the same. One question that can be asked of the students is, what inventions have made life easier on people today?

Children’s Books


  1.     In this exceptionally well-designed book, life on a Midwestern farm at the turn of the century is exquisitely portrayed through the fond memories of Splear and the paintings of Stark, paired on double-page spreads. Those were the days of no electricity, no running water or indoor plumbing, when teams of horses worked the land and families were self-sufficient. Organized into a series of vignettes, the book begins with recollections of the kitchen stove, which was so central to their family life that, "-whenever we moved to a new house, the stove was the first thing to be taken off the hayrack and set up in the new kitchen." Each story is told in a relaxed, kitchen-table tone, inviting readers to learn more about threshing, wash day, gardening, chores, and Christmas. The subject of butchering is gently described and illustrated: "My sisters and I were unhappy when butchering time came around in the late fall." Stark's evocative paintings are filled with motion, life, and homey details. True to the nostalgic tone of the book, each one is flooded with cheerful sunlight. This would be a welcome addition for most collections, perhaps inspiring young people to have similar conversations with the elders in their own lives.

eCRATER



  1.   Normally I do not read many children's books but the cover of Growing Seasons caught my eye as Susan unpacked [the] book...

Leafing through the book caused me to feel very nostalgic, reliving the time when I was a young boy on a small Pennsylvania farm in the late 1930's. Detailed artwork and attention to detail in all the illustrations make a person feel part of the activity being described.

Elsie Lee Splear must be congratulated on her factual portrayal of farm life in the 1900's and her choosing an outstanding artist who's attention to detail produced outstanding illustrations of family farm life in the 1900's.

This book should be read by people of all ages to better understanding what farm life was like in the 1900's.

Can anyone imagine not having an inside toilet and must use the little house out back many times referred to as the "outhouse" with only remnants of an old Sears catalogs which served the need at hand and also provided the patron some reading. Can one believe a life without Charmin?

I highly recommend the younger generations to buy this book, study the wonderful detailed paintings and enjoy reading the descriptions of how it used to be before television. I will always cherish this book and when I need a pick-me-up, I will browse through Growing Seasons and reminisce about the times that were.

Bill Zellers