Sunday 12 December 2021

Abigay’s Farm by Odette Elliot, illustrated by Patrice Aggs, review by Lynda Waterhouse


Abigay’s Farm is a contemporary multigenerational middle grade story that captures the experience of life on a farm as seen through the eyes of a twelve year old girl.

Abigay and her twin brother Gabriel love spending holidays at their grandparent’s farm. Her grandmother has taught her the names of the flowers, birds and trees and where the badger sett is. Abigay knows how to handle baby chicks and is excited to see a foal born. This time, however, things are different as Gabriel is in hospital and cannot come and Abigay misses him terribly. The arrival of an artistic French Canadian family including the lively and, at times, irritating eight year old Juliette keeps her busy.

Abigay’s grandparents are getting older and have financial worries and her parents are not interested in taking on the farm. They have a life and important work in the city. Abigay is also preoccupied with the serious health issues of Abigay’s twin brother, Gabriel. It slowly begins to dawn on her that the farm is in danger of being sold and to none other than Mr King, the father of Christopher, the local bully. Abigay starts making plans on how to save the farm but it is Gabriel who hits upon the possible solution of creating an Open Farm. It is an uphill struggle for Abigay’s ideas to be taken seriously.

Then Grandpa uncovers a time capsule that he buried as a child in the 1960s. The rediscovery of the artefacts including photographs of his family have a profound  and galvanising effect on him and reminds him that, “When you’ve got hope, all sorts of things are possible.”

This story is written in a warm and gentle style that draws up Odette’s own personal experience of both family diversity and farm life. Abigay’s and Gabriel’s father’s family is Jamaican. Patrice Agg’s line drawings capture the relationship between the twins as well as enhancing key moments in the story.   

Candy Gourlay succinctly sums up the tone and themes of this book when she described it as, “A warm embrace of a story filled with family love amidst the grit and charm of a farm setting.”

This book is an essential for every primary school library and would make a lovely Christmas present. It provides a refreshing counterbalance to the high volume of middle grade fantasy that is currently around.


Published by SilverWood Books

1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

Lovely review - and a beautiful life-affirming story too.