Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall with pictures by Barbara Cooney
I read this book with the girls during our first week of school and it's a wonderful way to begin kindergarten or preschool (or end a day or begin a reading session or...well, anytime).
Hall begins in the fall by describing a year's worth of goods grown, sewn, carved, and gathered by a New England family. The ox-cart man loads it all up and travels by the side of his ox to Portsmouth where he sells everything, even the cart and the ox. He buys a few precious things for his family and walks home. Through the coming year, we watch the family again growing, sewing, carving, and harvesting in anticipation of another trip to the market.
Barbara Cooney's illustrations are wonderful as always, warmly illustrating this family's life of hard work and cooperation. The tone and style makes us easily believe they were painted long ago.
This is one of those perfect books that should be read again and again by every family.