Today I'm delighted to be part of a blog tour for a new book, Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman, that I absolutely adore. I've known of Julia's illustration work for years (she worked with us at ReadyMade) and I love the subject matter of this book, so in my mind that makes for a perfect combination. If you, like me, are interested in sustainable living and knowing where your food comes from—and yet haven't really spent much time on farms or around folks who really know farms—this book will make you happy. I'm pretty sure it would also make kids happy too.
You can WIN A FREE copy!
How to Enter:
To celebrate the release of the book, Storey Publishing is kindly offering to giveaway a copy of the book to one lucky reader. To enter, post a comment by 8 am central time Monday October 17 saying why you love farms. Or animals. Or tractors. Please use your email address to register so that I can contact you.
I'll choose a random winner and will announce it on Monday.
And now, Julia was kind enough to do a little Q&A so that we could learn more about the making of the book.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
My husband Matt grew up on a farm in Iowa and I grew up in the Bronx in New York. I never experienced farm life and so I've always been intrigued by his childhood. I had already worked with Storey publishing on illustrating some cookbooks and when they approached me to work together again, we came up with the idea of making an illustrated book all about everything farm related. I was excited to get a chance to really learn all about the tools, animals and food my husband grew up with and to have his family farm be the inspiration. The first illustrated spread shows his farm and all the buildings on it. I also grew up looking at the book Living on the Earth which my mother treasured. My idea for hand writing the text definitely came from appreciating those pages.
What was your favorite part of putting it together?
Definitely the drawing part. I love drawing lots of objects so doing the old-fashioned kitchen tools spread, the toolshed spread and all of the vegetable varieties was so much fun. There are 224 pages of drawings in this book, so while I was working on it, there wasn't a moment I wasn't drawing. I carried my sketchbook and research images everywhere I went and drew while watching television, in subway stations and airports, or while hanging out with friends. I remember I drew the barn cuploas page when I was at jury duty because some guy started asking me about it. It was probably the least inspirational place to be drawing something from picturesque farm life...
Was the topic something that you've been interested in for a while?
Before I met Matt, I don't think I really thought about it too much. My parents have friends who have a sheep farm in Maine and we visited them a bunch of times when I was a kid. I've always loved animals and my sister did as well. We grew up with all kinds of pets – from rabbits to parrots. My sister now studies primates in Uganda.
How did you do your research?
Most of my research came from other Storey publications. They have a huge range of books on every topic related to country living that you can think of. There are thick books just on timber frame construction and building chicken coops and raising goats and making maple syrup. It was hard to go through so much information and just pick out what I felt was important. While I merely skimmed the surface on all the topics, I tried to get a bit of general information on everything. Then I added some of the more curious tidbits in between. There was also visits to Matt's farm and advice from Matt's dad ("and you'll need to add water pumping windmills for sure...") and farmer's market shopping for the best looking vegetables to draw. After the book was totally sketched out, Storey had expert Carol Ekarius look everything over. She filled in some blanks for me and corrected anything that was out of order.
What do you hope readers learn or experience from the book?
I hope when they flip through it that it brings to mind the smell of animals or eating fresh apples or laying in hay or riding past endless fields. I want the book to evoke good memories of farm life. I also hope people learn something interesting from reading the text or try some of the recipes or projects.
How much time have you actually spent on farms? Just had to ask!
Not enough, that's for sure! I hope to continue learning and drawing about country life.
What's next for you?
I hope to do more big projects like this book. Some sort of sequel would be fun : )
Thanks so much for sharing with us Julia. Here's the full blog tour schedule so that you can follow along for more chances to win books and to hear more about the project: