Sunday, February 14, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Strike at Charles' Farm: Greve a la Ferme de Charles


There have been several stories of animals on strike or refusing to carry out their customary duties. Karma Wilson's Animal Strike at the Zoo, It's True!, Chris Babcock's No Moon, No Milk!, and Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Moo all show animals bargaining for everything from electric blankets to the moon. In Dr. Nicole's story, Strike at Charles' Farm, every animal from the cart horse to the bee has stopped doing its job. When Charles gathers them in the barn, they all make their demands. The dog wants quieter sheep to tend, the cat wants more mice to eat, etc. Rather than haggling over terms or giving in to their requests, Charles simply suggests that they might have better luck if they lived in the zoo. That sets things straight in a hurry and soon the farm is back to normal.

The illustrations show each animal refusing to work, so even beginning readers could guess at the meaning if they don't recognize all the words. As with Dr. Nicole's other book, Are You Eating My Lunch? the text is in both French and English, making it handy for ELL or foreign language classes in elementary schools. I especially like the details in the illustrations that add extra humor to the situations. The dog ignores the sheep, so they are playing leapfrog and forming towering pyramids like professional cheer leaders. The cat won't chase the mice, so there are a pair of mice dancing on top of a picnic basket behind the cat's back. Those little extras will give parents and children something to look for and laugh over as they read together. (I especially like the rooster imagining himself surrounded by admiring hens while he wears dark glasses as if he is a movie star.)

This story could be used in an ELL or foreign language class because of its bilingual text. It could also be used along with some of the other books I've mentioned to discuss fairness, responsibility, and how workers bargain for improved conditions or wages (in a very simple introduction to the topic). 

I read an e-book provided by the author for review purposes. For more information about the author and her other books, please visit (English site), or (French site).

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