Thursday, 24 April 2014

Under the Harvest Moon

Author                               : Stella Gurney
Illustrations by                   : Maggie Kneen
Age range recommended   :  4+
Theme                              : Meadow animals, harvesting, friendship, moving home

Opening lines –  
It had been a long, hot summer on Worthy Farm. The golden wheat shimmered and swayed in the September sunshine, whispering to the small animals who bustled amongst its warm, dry stalks as they gathered berries and nuts for their winter stores.

But before long, the calm of the autumn afternoon was broken by a rumbling, grumbling noise that got louder and louder before fading away again. In Furthest Field, it was so noisy that it woke Dormouse, who stretched and poked his head out of his nest.

Introduction and Synopsis –
It’s harvesting season and the animals in Worthy Farm are alarmed when the farmer begins harvesting the wheat using his tractor (The Big Red Monster) to cut down all the wheat. The animals all get together to decide on the next course of action before their homes are all pulled down the next day. Dormouse, ( from the mouse family, which hibernates for 6 months of the year, or longer), comes up with a daring idea – migrating to the nearby woodshed! The animals are scared, but faced with no other choice, they brace themselves for the night plan. They sadly pick up their belongings and set off into unknown territory. They are encountered by a badger, who kindly enough does not trouble them and a frightening white owl, who luckily does not spot them. When they come to a stream which they need to cross, help comes in the form of a friendly otter who gives them a lift on his back across the stream. Finally the group reaches the wood shed where a family of house mice are waiting to welcome them!

Why did my caterpillar and I like this book?
ME -
It’s a feel-good story with a little bit of adventure packed in. It talks about the dangers that rodents on a meadow face due to seasonal impacts. It’s a touchy-feely book with textures on the bodies of the furry animals. It talks about the idea of not panicking in times of adversity and structured thinking. It also drives home the point that even rodents, who are considered pests to farmers, are also living beings like us and fight hard for food and survival. Migration can be a tough thing to do, but there are difficult situations when you just need to leave in search of a new home. 

Touchy-feely books are never boring, are they? :-)

Though I struggled to keep A interested in the reading, she liked the pictures a lot. They look almost real. There is a lot of information in the book. The animals are actually shown moving with backpacks, sleeping bags, food stores and satchels of other belongings. It was interesting to point out to her that everyone has a home with their own set of precious belongings. We spoke about seasons and how the farmer harvests the crop in autumn and this puts the animals in danger. We also spoke briefly about migration. The book opened up avenues to talk about these points for the first time in our home. But when we were finished with the last sentence, A was quick to close the book and rush to the library to fetch another book! I realised she did not enjoy the story much.

Online link -
We could not find any online video link for this story.

The cocoon rates it -


The book did not live up to our expectations. There are no regular aspects like rhyme or rhythm, repetition or even humour. Though it is a good story of survival against odds,  it is way too wordy; there were a number of sentences that were long, with use of commas. We feel the author should have thought a little more about aspects to keep the young ones interested in the story. There is information, but no entertainment.

No comments:

Post a Comment