Cover image for The animal hedge
The animal hedge
Fleischman, Paul.
Personal Author:
First Candlewick Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
After being forced to sell the animals he loves, a farmer cuts his hedge to look like them and teaches his sons about following their hearts.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 72201.
Added Author:
Format :


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PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman's testament to vision, passion, and destiny is beautifully complemented by folk art-inspired paintings by the virtuoso Bagram Ibatoulline.

There once lived a farmer whose heart
glowed like a hot wood stove with the love of animals.

No one loved animals more than the farmer. All day long, he and his three sons toiled on the farm, singing while they worked. The eldest son favored coachman's songs; the second son, songs of the sea; the youngest son, tunes about a traveling fiddler; and the farmer, always, songs of the barnyard. But when a terrible drought befalls the land, the farmer must sell his livestock and move to a tiny cottage with only a hedge around it. Though he is heartbroken to lose his animals, he and his sons soon discover something remarkable about their hedge - and something unique about each person who trims its branches.

Author Notes

Paul Fleischman was born in Monterey, California on September 5, 1952. His father is fellow children's author, Sid Fleischman. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for two years, from 1970 to 1972. He dropped out to go on a cross-country train/bicycle trip and along the way took care of a 200-year-old house in New Hampshire. He eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of New Mexico in 1977.

Fleischman has written over 25 books for children and young adults including award winners such as Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, Newberry Medal in 1989; Graven Images, Newberry Honor; Bull Run, Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; Breakout, Finalist for the National Book Award in 2003; Saturnalia, Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction Honor. He has also garnered numerous awards and recognitions from the American Library Association, School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and NCTE.

He founded the grammar watchdog groups ColonWatch and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. Lush paintings reminiscent of nineteenth-century folk art illustrate this original tale about discovering one's true calling. When a drought forces a farmer to sell his land and animals, he moves with his three sons to a cottage with a hedge that, when clipped, seems to turn into animal shapes. As his sons grow old enough to seek a trade, the farmer encourages each to turn to the magic hedge for answers. As each trims the hedge, an occupation emerges. Years later, the successful sons return to their father, who admits that the hedge simply mirrored their own hearts. The story's elements don't always flow together, and there is some disconnection between the message of self-determination and the quiet paintings, rendered in a flat, decorative style, which portray the hedge as more magical than the text suggests. Children able to make the required leaps, however, will enjoy the mystery in the miraculous hedge and its soothsaying shapes. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ibatoulline (Crossing; The Nightingale) once again proves his versatility as he here turns to an American folk art style, with splendid results. Fleischman's (Weslandia) inspiring story, originally published in 1983, follows a father and three sons as they grow conscious of their inner dreams. As the tale opens, Ibatoulline's paintings depict a lush farm filled with contented livestock. His watercolor and gouache illustrations draw on folk-art conventions; flattened figures, moody skies and decorative borders appear to be painted on wooden panels. When a drought forces the family to sell their farm, they move into a cabin and work as tool sharpeners. The father begins to perceive in the surrounding hedge the shapes of the barnyard animals he once cherished ("Part of the hedge seemed to resemble a cow") and trims the hedge to bring them out. Later, when he urges his sons to go "out into the world," and they do not know what vocation to choose, he tells them: "Watch [the hedge] every day... It will send up its answer"-and he's right (Fleischman foreshadows their vocations in the songs they had sung on the farm). "They'd seen in the hedge what lay deep in their hearts and heavy on their minds." Even with Ibatoulline's flattened perspectives, the characters come alive with emotion. The father's eyes crease with contentment as he stands behind the cows and chickens his sons have bought him with their earnings. Ibatoulline's artwork infuses Fleischman's heartwarming story with quiet power. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-There are no surprises in this gentle story, but there is ample assurance that following the dictates of one's heart is the surest path to personal fulfillment. In classic folkloric tradition, Fleischman tells of a happy farmer and his three sons who sing merrily as they go about their chores. When they fall on hard times, they are forced to sell their livestock and move to a small cottage surrounded by a hedge. While trimming it, the farmer begins to see shapes of animals within it and adjusts his clipping so that they become visible to all. As the boys become old enough to set out into the world, he cuts the hedge down. Each young man watches it grow and trims it, finding the shape of his own dreams: a carriage and team of horses, a sailing vessel, a fiddler playing for dancers. Thus, each is pointed toward his true vocation. In a conclusion that seems as inevitable as it is satisfying, the sons pitch in to buy their father the livestock he needs to return to the animal husbandry that is his soul's delight. Ibatoulline's watercolor-and-gouache illustrations, inspired by 19th-century American folk-art paintings, are the perfect complement to this simple allegory. Simply lovely.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.