Hundred Year Barn (The Hundred Year Barn)


Newbery Medal-winning author Patricia MacLachlan’s poignant text and award-winning artist Kenard Pak’s gentle and rustic illustrations paint the picture of a beautiful red barn and the people who call it home.

One hundred years ago, a little boy watched his family and community come together to build a grand red barn. This barn become his refuge and home—a place to play with friends and farm animals alike.

As seasons passed, the barn weathered many storms. The boy left and returned a young man, to help on the farm and to care for the barn again. The barn has stood for one hundred years, and it will stand for a hundred more: a symbol of peace, stability, caring and community.

In this joyful celebration generations of family and their tender connection to the barn, Newbery Medal–winning author Patricia MacLachlan and award-winning artist Kenard Pak spin a tender and timeless story about the simple moments that make up a lifetime.

This beautiful picture book is perfect for young children who are curious about history and farm life.--from the publisher

48 pages                                        978-0062687739                        Ages 4-8

Keywords:  community, barn, farm, family, multigenerational, nature, home, stability, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, farm life, holidays


“Bought myself a farm way out in the country

Took to growing lettuce, milking cows and honey”

--Jefferson Airplane “The Farm” (1969)


“Farmer Frank hobbled into the house, cane in hand.

‘Sow got out of her pen, had to chase her down,’ said Farmer Frank--Frank Hull, 71--whose body, ravaged from decades of heavy manual work, is no longer built for chasing sows.

For half a century, he and his wife, Sherry, 67, have run their 260-acre farm here in the upper Catskills, some two hours north of New York City.

Known as Hull-O Farms, it has been in Mr. Hull’s family since his forebear, John Hull, founded it some 240 years and seven generations ago.

It is one of the oldest farms in the country continually owned and run by the same family. But that lineage is about to end.

The Hulls can no longer handle the strenuous physical work needed to earn enough to keep up with the taxes, insurance, mortgages, barn maintenance and other rising costs, so they are putting the farm on the market.

‘We don’t want to leave the land,’ Ms. Hull said. ‘But we’re running out of options.’”

-- from the New York Times, “After 240 Years and 7 Generations, Forced to Sell the Family Farm” (11/27/19)


“I was only five years old, and I held my mother’s hand and watched.

‘See, Jack?’ The horses are working hard,’ said my mother.

I watched the horses pull wagons of brush away.

The builders cleared the land to lay a foundation of gray stone.

Day after day our friends built wooden frames, leaving spaces for windows that my father would admire when the light fell across his butterscotch floors.

They raised the frames--side after side, up and up--and climbed tall ladders to bolt them tightly to the chestnut beams.”


THE HUNDRED-YEAR BARN is neither a funny story, nor a sad one. But it’s a very good one. I guess you might characterize it as a historical fiction picture book.


I’m familiar with the concept of barn raisings but, as a former suburban kid, I must have learned about them from one of those SRA guided reading cards, or from some long-forgotten movie. I certainly have no first-hand knowledge.


But I grew up working on the family’s residential construction jobs, so I appreciate the workmanship that goes into a sound, old building, whether it be a house, barn, town hall, or mansion. Long ago, when I wanted a big barn built, I employed a contractor who grew up working alongside his father, a potato farmer. He knew from experience what he was doing when he designed and built that barn, because it’s still standing tall 40+ years later.


“gregarious -- instinctively or temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others

If you know someone who’s outgoing, sociable, and fond of the company of others, you might want to call her gregarious.

The word was originally used to describe animals that live in flocks--it’s from the Latin word grex, meaning ‘herd.’Not surprisingly, people started using it to describe humans who liked being in groups.”

-- from


One thing about barn raisings that makes this story compelling to me, is the sense of community that made such undertakings possible. Who was responsible for engendering a sense of community, I wonder. While I don’t consider myself antisocial, I am nevertheless sufficiently introverted that I couldn’t imagine, in a hundred years, being someone who’d be friendly with, and round up, more than 100 neighbors to help build a barn, as is the case here.


“I grew older and went away to school and came back home to help run the farm.”


While the barn raising draws us into the book, much of the story is about kids and animals in and about the barn, and how the narrator, in due course, grows up to assume responsibility for the farm. He diligently maintains the barn while overseeing successive generations of kids who share the structure with both domestic and wild creatures.  This tale about cows and horses and kitties, opossums and owls and mice, will have deep appeal for kids


The illustrations feature a number of expansive scenes: the barn perched by itself amidst the wide prairie and the interior of the barn with its visible structure of timbers and its maze of pens and stalls. The narrator wears a red cap throughout, which connects the boy at the beginning to the man at the end. It permits us to see him in the distance when he’s in the fields on farm machines with his father, learning his trade.


I recommend pairing THE HUNDRED-YEAR BARN with the memorable farm-related poetry book, Alice Schertle and Wendell Minor’s A LUCKY THING.


Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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