When a local author asked me to review a children’s book, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.
I’ve always wanted to write a book but find the process overwhelming, so I commend author Eve Culley for taking her idea and committing the time and real work that goes into getting a book published. It’s truly a massive undertaking.
The author references her own children and grandchildren in the dedication and biographical pages, and I imagine they, knowing some of the characters in real life, love these stories.
It was easy to picture a grandma sitting on the porch of her farmhouse telling her grandkids these stories.
The word choices and sentence structure remind me of listening to my own grandma telling be about her experience growing up on a farm in Cranfills Gap.
I love the concept of Culley’s book “Adventures in Barn Town.”
The book is a series of anecdotes told from the perspective of a very serious barn cat, Deputy Stripe, who tends to take it upon himself to manage things that are beyond his control.
Never shying away from confrontation, Stripe attempts to manage all manner of barnyard pests — other cats, skunks, raccoons, mice and a cantankerous rooster.
Growing up as a witness to the comings and goings of the barnyard, the stories read very true to life.
In fact, if I had any suggestion for the book, it would be that Culley let her imagination run wild. Beyond animals that talk in country accents, feel a strong sense of responsibility and make clever observations, I would love to see more adventure, more intrigue and more general silliness in the sequel promised in the book’s final chapter.
The book seems to be inspired by “Hank the Cowdog,” a childhood favorite of mine. Culley has certainly chosen a genre of children’s literature that works. Kids love farm animals.
My own kid was instantly in love with Stripes when she saw him scowling from the cover. Even a toddler gets that this is a cat who takes himself way too seriously; it’s charming.
The book is a casual read. The chapters are self-contained anecdotes, which makes it work well for reading aloud. There’s little suspense, so it’s a relaxing choice that easy to put down at bedtime.
I would expect kids who aren’t familiar with farm living would need some of the allusions explained, but Stripes’ attitude and desire to take control of — well — everything, would certainly be relatable for many young readers.
I would say this book is best suited for an emerging reader to follow along as an adult reads or a young reader who is comfortable with short chapter books.
The greatest educational benefit I see from this book is in talking to your kids about perspective. This book can show how fun it is to imagine how other creatures view the world. It can encourage creativity and my favorite thing — writing.
When you finish, ask them to make up a story from the perspective of their favorite pet or toy.
“Adventures in Barn Town” is available in paperback for $11.99 or Ebook $0.99 on Amazon.com.
Sarah Dykowski is the wife of Publisher Scott Dykowski. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.