With the ease of buying milk at the grocery store today, many children now know very little about where milk comes from. Recalling her own delightful memories of growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm, Phyllis Alsdurf lets children vicariously experience the hard yet joyful work in It’s Milking Time. The blend of her poetic text— with “cuds a-chewing, / tails a-swatting, / hooves a-pounding”—and the accompanying paintings in soft, muted colors gives a nostalgic feel to this gentle story.
After a young girl leads a parade of Holsteins into the barn, she helps her father feed and prepare them to be hooked up to the milker. As each one of the alphabet of cows (“Alphie, Bertha, Cassie, Di . . .”) finishes, Dad empties the milk into a pail and carries it to the milking house, where the milk is strained and ends up in a milking can. Finally, it’s stored in a cooler until it can be picked up the next day, taken to the creamery and made into butter and cheese or placed in bottles for stores.
When the cows head back to the fields, there’s still more work to do, such as shoveling manure into gutters to be used later as fertilizer and scrubbing the milkers and strainers. Although milking requires never-ending diligence, it’s not all drudgery. The girl relishes the responsibility of feeding the cows; petting and giving milk to the calves; and spending time with her father. And in the morning, after her mother skims the cream off the top, there’s fresh milk to drink with her pancakes.
Fans of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon, with its quiet father-daughter bond, will adore this equally beautiful and loving book—and learn more about their favorite drink in the process.