It's Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf

9780375869112_p0_v1_s114x166Lynn:  For so many children, milk is something that is found in large white bottles at the local store.  They know it comes from cows but how it gets from cows to store is pretty vague.  It’s Milking Time (Random 2013) provides an exploration of that process using a surprising amount of detail while doing all the things good picture books do.  Phyllis Alsdurf grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm and her text sways with the natural rhythms of farm life and reflects the inexorable demands of milking and animal care while telling an engaging story.

Every morning, every night,
it’s milking time.

The young girl races to the field to start the herd on their “Holstein parade” to the barn and the story follows her as she helps her father with all the many steps in milking.  Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher’s lovely watercolor illustrations have an earthy palette and are so evocative of hot summer evenings in the Midwest and the sights and sounds of a farm.  The perspectives are often from a child’s level and my favorites are of the the cows trudging into the barn, “cuds a-chewing, tails a-swatting.”  I was a professor’s kid but many of my friends lived on farms and this book brought me back sharply to visits there and I will never forget discovering how startling large a dairy cow is or realizing that work on a dairy farm never takes a vacation!

This is a wonderful choice for all those farm and food units for schools but the sweet story also makes a wonderful lap book.

Cindy: Reading this book brought back so many memories. My cousins in Wisconsin lived on a farm and we always went to visit them because they could not leave their animals to come visit us. My grandmother in Western NY state lived in an old house that had milk delivery. She had a small metal lined box in the wall next to her back door that had a door on the outside and inside of the house. The milkman would leave her glass bottles of milk in the box and they would stay cold there until she got home from work to collect them. That milk box was almost as fun to play with as the laundry chute. G.I. Joe and Barbie were daring and made many trips down the laundry chute! Later, when milk delivery ceased, my brother and I were old enough to be sent with 50 cents a block down the street to the milk machine (!) out in front of the fire station. Cardboard quarts of milk were dispensed like today’s pop machines deliver a can. We loved to go buy the milk. And, while not milk related, I vividly remember the Nickles’ bread man making house calls to my southwestern Michigan childhood home. He carried a big metal box and would open the front of it and tiered shelves of baked goods would be on display. Usually we just bought bread, but my mother loved carbs as much as I do so sometimes we splurged and bought a coffee cake or some cinnamon bread or some other treat. My mother was not a baker…the Nickles guy took care of that.

photo 13The other memory that this charming book brought back was the photo I saw last summer of the Focus group watching the dairy cows walk past the gate of the house that Lynn was renting in France last year. The boys were entranced by watching the cows. Thanks for indulging me in this revelry of memory. A good picture book takes you places and this one did.



Every morning, every night,
it’s milking time.

Every day of the week,
every week of the month,
every month of the year,
it’s milking time.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "It's Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf"

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  1.' Rebecca says:

    Thanks for sharing, Cindy! I grew up raising hogs, but yes, the farming life of any kind is so inspirational.

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