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Book Reviews

When I Visit the Farm

by Crystal Beshara

Crystal Beshara is first and foremost a painter, so it’s not surprising that it is the artwork in this book that shines. As with an impressionist painting, Beshara’s softly coloured illustrations sometimes have the effect of a photograph – more real than reality itself – thanks to careful choices and evocative detail. The scene of a little girl standing on a fence, soft green grass below her feet and a barn in the distance, is so perfectly composed as to seem inevitable.

The book’s storyline is simple – a young girl visits, well, a farm. Nevertheless, with such breathtaking art to support it, we come to appreciate the simplicity and sincerity of the words. “When I visit the farm/ I feel as free as a dandelion seed” is, predictably but exquisitely, illustrated with the small girl blowing a dandelion puff, the fluff drifting across a blank, blue double-page spread. Shadows provide necessary visual drama ­– an ordinary chain-link fence casts a fantastically twisted shadow across the body of a hen peering through her cage. The book ends with the girl’s rather poignant speculation that the hen is dreaming of freedom.

This very personal, idyllic reminiscence of life on a farm is a very absorbing read, and will be especially interesting to urbanized young Canadians.