Bess the Barn Stands Strong
Words by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
Bess is built on a beautiful June day and becomes a feature of the farm. The animals take refuge in her, the family celebrates in her, she is loved – though time shows her wearing thin. When the time comes for the old farmer to pass on the care of the farm Bess, and the animals, end up with a young, new farmer with new ideas who wants a new barn. Is that the end of Bess’s job?
My first, and immediate reaction upon finishing Bess the Barn was that it scratches that Virginia Lee Burton itch. Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia has her own, unique voice, but the emotional resonance is definitely reminiscent of The Little House. That includes the “maybe someone’s cutting an onion in here” ending.
The art is lovely and pairs well with the classic feel of the story. Even though we see Bess through many years and some weathering times, it’s always beautiful. And I was pleased to see the subtle personification on Bess’s front, her “facial” expressions. It added a fun connection to Bess.
Overall, Bess the Barn was a joy to read and was delightful to dive back into over and over. If you’re a fan of classic picture books you’ll definitely want to make sure to check this out. Good for ages 3 and up.