As best I can tell this is Amanda Lorenzo’s first foray into writing. She has created a delightful and quirky children’s book in Runt Farm – Under New Management. I have a soft spot for children’s books, they are so much more fun than most of the dry boring stuff that us adults are expected to read.

Runt Farm is actually Brunt Farm, but the Brunt’s have decided to leave, it is a little dilapidated, and the ‘B’ in Brunt on the painted sign on the front of the barn has faded out somewhat. There is only one remaining resident, a spunky kitten, known simply as Kitten. Kitten has no interest in moving and hid in the hay loft as the Brunt’s made their escape. Kitten is now the lord of the manor, or at least lord of the Hay Loft! Kitten pontificates:

Nice enough people, but we just didn’t see eye to eye. Gonna miss that bowl of cream in the evenings, for sure. But I never could bring myself to eat up little mice the way they wanted me to. ‘Live and let live.’ Thats what I always say.

On Kitten’s first day in charge he finds a new friend, The Peep. The Peep is a duckling who hatches before Kitten’s eyes. The Peep does not say much other than ‘Peep, peep, peep’. Actually come to think about it, I think I know some people like that 🙂 The Peep introduces Kitten into the joys of the local pond, a trip that Kitten does not particularly enjoy. Kittens and water are not usually a great combination.

Kitten and The Peep are soon joined by two very wise mice who have made a daring escape from the dreaded NAARF (Nightshade Association Animal Research Facility). Cletus and Tooth are a little leery when they first meet Kitten “It’s a you-know-what!” says Tooth. Kitten is way too well mannered to eat the mice, they are safe and sound in Kittens world.

I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that this is a delightful read. There is a strong educational factor which will make parents happy, and there is a huge entertainment factor which will keeps the kids happy. What I thought was a great idea is that Amanda Lorenzo included a glossary of terms at the back of the book. This is something that you rarely find in books aimed at young readers.

I think Mark Even Walker deserves great credit for his illustrations. He has taken a somewhat bold approach and opted for what looks like pencil sketches yet they are amazingly effective. In fact several of the full page illustrations would look great in frames on the wall. Style wise his work reminds me of the illustrations in the early edition copy of Kenneth Grahame classic Wind In The Willows that is skulking in one of my libraries. In fact the pictures were so reminiscent in style that I now have a search on in Canada and the UK to track down my copy. The pictures also reminded me of some of the Winnie The Pooh early editions. All in all, Mark Walker is causing me a great deal of grief and pain 🙂 Now I have to go hunt down these old books to satisfy my curiosity!

the-runt-farm-beatrice-and-blossom-1.jpgAmanda Lorenzo has started to put up a web site, it is still in the construction phase, but well worth a visit, the address is runtfarm.com. Runt Farm – Under New Management is available from Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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