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Since the year 2000, I've been writing and telling stories that are real-life adventures of adults and children on a small family farm in the year 1950. My purpose in telling these stories is definitely not to glorify any so-called "Good old days." Instead, my purpose is to portray life on a small farm the way most of us emember it–full of hard woirk, riddled with daily sacrifice, lacking conveniences, void of vacations, and yet, somehow, satisfying and invigorating. Many remember their childhood on a farm with fondness, others with bitterness, but no one will deny that the experiences shaped their lives forever.
I write my books to entertain children and adults with stories that show humor and love among the family but also accurtely portray farm activities on a very small family farm where the famiy must work together to make a living. My hope is that my stories may also be your stories or the stories of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents.
My goal is to create a Collector Series of books about a farm family in 1950 which will become Keepsake Books to be passed on from generation to generation with the result of the books being read in 100 years or more by people as they realize, "This is what it was like to live and work on a small family farm in 1950." I have a total of twenty titles planned that will display the farm activities from January to December of the same farm family.
It is my hope that the stories in my Collector Series of books serve to enhance Agricultural Literacy by raising awareness and appreciation for agriculture and its boundless opportunities; that they serve to encourage Farm Pride by telling the stories that make people proud of their farm background; and that they serve to preserve Farm Heritage by portraying farm activities accurately, capturing the traditions in a story to be remembered and passed on.
Over the past years, I've performed over 500 Farm Heritage Programs for over 26,000 adults and children at schools, historical societies, nursing homes, senior centers, museums, annual banquets, and other clubs and organizations. My goal is always to entertain and to teach. For children my stories are adventures about farm kids as told by farm kids, and for adults the stories are a nostalgic trip back to life the way it was, with all its hard work, imperfections, challenges and fun.
A STORY NOT TOLD IS LOST FOREVER
Witnessing the urbanization of the rural landscape that once defined a way of life for much of Minnesota, I realized that soon nothing of the old farming communities would remain.
What would be remembered about the people who lived in the small towns and on farms during the middle of the Twentieth Century? Would their stories go untold? Would the "truth" as told by city folks from publishing houses be fractured and diluted or would the stories generated by the struggles by thousands of rural and small town Americans be simply ignored?
I decided that the local truth about rural America in the middle of the last century should be told and that it needed to be told in a factual yet entertaining format. To tackle the task, I created two series of books for children and adults: Farm Country Tales and If I Were A Farmer.
FARM COUNTRY TALES SERIES
Each story in the Farm Country Tales series is an entertaining narrative rhyme, featuring original and colorful illustrations that accurately portray small town and rural life and farm equipment and activities of the times. Stories are based on actual events and offer children and adults of all ages the opportunity to read and enjoy stories that evoke memories for some and serve to inform others of the times in which their parents or grandparents or great grandparents were children. Stories feature the Carlson family members and their interactions with the farm neighborhood and the surrounding small towns during routine and special events. These stories entertain children and adults, alike.
IF I WERE A FARMER SERIES
Each story in the If I Were A Farmer series features a contemporary child with a pet. The child imagines himself or herself as a farmer having an adventure in which he or she is the hero. Each page contains the child’s narration, enhanced by a full-page, colored illustration that clearly displays the action of the adventure and also places both the child and the pet into the action. The prose is aimed at pre-school or K-3, but some farm terminology may need to be explained by an adult.
Athough I plan to write many other books, including novels for adults and teens, presently I have just one book that is not in either of the two series described above.
What I Saw on the Farm is not part of a series, nor is it inspired by actual events. Unlike the characters in my two series, the characters in What I Saw on the Farm are not limited by the reality of farm life. When these modern-day children return to school from a field trip to the farm, the principal asks them, "What did you see on the farm, children."
Instead of describing what they actually saw on the farm, the kids answer with their imaginations: dogs dance, chickens practice law, and cats play baseball in a colorful farmyard romp.
Each imaginative illustration is accompanied by an actual photograph of the animal as the children would have seen it on the farm. The link to reality is there, but the imagination is foremost.
I wrote the story in 2004 and tried two different illustrators before hearing about twelve-year-old Bradley Simon's interest in drawing. Other illustrators seemed unsure of what I wanted, but Brad was willing to draw what he saw in the text.