Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Becket List

Griffin, Adele. The Becket List
April 2nd 2019 by Algonquin Young Readers
Public library copy

When Rebecca and her family move to the country so that her parents can have a veterinary practice there and also help out with the family store, she decides to start anew and change her name to "Becket". Her parents, as well as older sister Caroline and twin brother Nicholas reluctantly agree. There are a lot of things to get used to at the new house, and Becket is also taking over some of the farm chores from her grandmother, like collecting eggs and feeding the donkey and mule. She longs for a dog other than the elderly Mr. Fancypants, who is fonder of Nicholas, and tries to earn money in a couple of misguided ways. She and Nicholas go to a summer camp at the school, and she tries to make friends with Freida, although this is complicated by the fact that she also talks to Nicholas. By the end of summer, she is feeling more comfortable with her new environs and is looking forward to school.
Strengths: There are not a whole lot of books set on farms, and while the number of families living in rural environments has shrunk a bit, there is still a significant population whose life this sort of book reflects. Becket is ten, which is a great age to live on a farm, and seeing her do chores will fascinate children who do not have any background in that area.
Weaknesses: Becket is a very young ten, and there are a few facets of the book that make it something that students in grades 6 and up won't like-- the way friendships are formed and maintained, her playing with toys, and the way she interacts with her sister, who is going in to 7th grade. Also, Mr. Fancypants is 14. You know how this ends.
What I really think: I would buy this for an elementary library since I enjoyed it a lot, but it is too young for my readers.
Thanksgiving always makes me think of visiting my grandmother at Clarks Dairy Farm. My grandfather Clark died in 1954 of cancer, fighting the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was built between his barns and his fields; the concession he got was a tunnel under the turnpike for the cows. My uncles all retired from farming in the 1980s and 90s, and it looks like the farm is slowly decaying. I was always a little jealous of my cousins who grew up in the country.


  1. We have a farm near us that has a little underpass due to a road. (I'm guessing it's the same situation as your grandfather's farm.) Sorry to hear that your grandfather had to fight that battle while he had cancer :(

    I do like a good book about farms. This one does look good. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love farm books and books about Amish farming. This sounds like a great read -- and there are many farmers trying to stay afloat. So sad for your grandfather. My great uncle had a working farm in Ohio, and I loved spending time there. And, I think it's important for kids to read about life on a farm.