Ernestine's Milky Way

illus. by Emily Sutton. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524714840.
PreS-Gr 2—Ernestine lives with her mama on a remote farm in the Great Smoky Mountains, where they are waiting for Daddy to return from World War II. Ernestine helps around the farm, but, most of all, she keeps watch over Mama, who is very near giving birth to twins. Ole Peg is the heartiest cow around, and when their nearest neighbor needs milk to feed her children breakfast, five-year-old Ernestine sets off with two jars to share. She doesn't share with the skunks, whistle-pigs, and raccoons along the way, but by the time she arrives, she drops one of the mason jars and watches helplessly as it rolls down the hill. Grateful for even the one surviving jar, the neighbors sit down to breakfast when the oldest boy turns up with the errant milk jar. Its lengthy tumble has turned the milk into butter! This refreshing book shows neighbors caring for one another and even the smallest children doing their part. The illustrations portray the beauty of the mountainous terrain and are deftly rendered in ink and watercolor. The endpapers display the Milky Way, which Ernestine would see most nights. When Ole Peg is being milked, she is disproportionate to the barn and the people, which is jarring. The starry endpapers emphasize how we are all one in this great world. Ernestine's private Milky Way is the path she follows daily delivering her milk.
VERDICT A lovely read-aloud that teachers can use to introduce the historical era, milk's connection to butter, and so much more.

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