Children’s Books with a RED HEN Theme – A List by Red Hen Turf Farm

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So, today I was reminded about how we’re often asked if there are Hens or Chickens or any animals at all at Red Hen Turf Farm, and that’s a fair question!

Alas, there are no Red Hens running around our farm.

The Red Hen we’re named after is from the folk tale, The Little Red Hen.  You know … the one where none of the other farm animals want to help the Little Red Hen grow wheat from some grains she finds, then harvest it, thresh it, mill it into flour, and then bake the flour into a yummy bread.

The animals want someone else to do the hard work, but they want to enjoy the fruits of the Little Red Hen’s labors.  Red Hen ultimately tells the other animals they cannot eat the bread since they did not do any of the work, but MAYBE if they had enough money or goods to make it worth her time, it would have been another story.

It was back in the 1950’s when the original owners of our Farm, Ron and Victor Keigley and Harold Hetler, started growing turfgrass sod for themselves, but then their neighbors saw the beautiful results and wanted some, too.

As a twist on the old folk tale, at Red Hen Turf Farm, we are GROWING FOR OTHERS who want a beautiful instant lawn when it takes nearly 2 years of hard work for us to grow grass from seed into a thick turf that can be harvested into rolls.

Do you remember the story of The Little Red Hen?  Did you have a favorite book version? There are LOTS!

I’m especially fond of the Golden Book version by Diane Muldrow and JP Miller (first published in 1954) since this is the one I first grew up with.

Paul Galdone’s The Little Red Hen (1973) is another classic version of this tale.

More recently, there’s Jerry Pinkney’s The Little Red Hen (2006), which has especially wonderful watercolor illustrations.

There are MANY more versions of The Little Red Hen tale, but let’s switch focus onto a few spin-offs off this story.

Barbara Barbieri McGrath and illustrator Martha Alexander’s The Little Green Witch (2006) retells the story when a little green witch cannot get her lazy monster friends to help her make a pumpkin pie.

In The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel (2011), there’s a mountain of homework and Little Red Pen tries to get her fellow school supplies to help her out.

In Candace Fleming’s and illustrator, Sally Anne Lambert’s Gator Gumbo: A Spicy Hot Tale (2004), Monsieur Gator is getting so old that he can only catch leaves, moss, and roots. He is teased by the other animals day after day, and finally decides to whip up a pot of gumbo.  None of the animals will help him so he does it all by himself.  Of course, when the gumbo’s done, the other animals want some, but instead Monsieur Gator teaches them a lesson.

In Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketterman and illustrated by Will Terry (2004), Miss Billie Armadilly wants to make some chili, but as we would expect in this Texas prairie spin-off of The Little Red Hen, all of her animal friends are too busy to help.  She decides to eat it by herself one cold night, but the smell brings her friends one by one to her door, bringing dishes of their own to share.

And finally, while I could keep going with this list for quite a long time, I’ll end with Help Yourself, Little Red Hen! (Another Point of View) by Alvin Granowsky and illustrated by Wendy Edelson (1995).   This version is told by the pig, and tells how the true backstory of this classic folktale is that Little Red Hen never does anything for herself and that the other animals do all of the work for her.  When Little Red Hen finds the grain of wheat that leads her to plant it and eventually bake it up into something yummy, the other animals decide it’s time for her to learn to help herself.

Happy Reading!

– Lisa, and the Crew at Red Hen Turf Farm

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Children’s Books with a Lawn-Theme – A List by Red Hen Turf Farm

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Here’s something a little different than you typical lawn-related or green-industry related posts that I hope you enjoy … the theme is Lawn-Related Children’s Books!

Last Summer, when visiting Black River Books in South Haven, Michigan, I happened across a cute lawn-related children’s book that put a big smile on my face called We Are Growing!  by Michigan Author and Illustrator, Laurie Keller, as part of the great Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series.

You can even watch a Youtube video of the author, Laurie Keller, reading We Are Growing as a part of the Adventures in Michigan kids’ summer reading program at Baker Book House HERE IT IS!

This delightful 2016 picture book won the 2017 Theodore Seuss Geisel Medal, and follows 7 friends who happen to be blades of grass, as they have humorous adventures in growing, even as they are up against a menacing purple lawnmower.  In School Library Journal, Rachel Forbes, formerly at Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada describes this cute book as follows:

K-Gr 2—An exciting thing is happening. The grass is growing! One blade grows tall, another grows curly, and two grow pointy. As these changes occur, the blades of grass declare what it is that makes them unique—all but one, that is. The last blade of grass has no distinguishing feature of note, and no matter how much the group wrack their brains, they can’t figure it out. Then, the great equalizer, the lawn mower, comes along. It takes this event for the blade to discover his special quality. As for the rest, even though they are literally cut down, they are reassured that they will grow again. The empowering narrative can be applied to lessons regarding things like confidence, identity, and growing up. No matter the takeaway, the message is easily consumable, thanks to exaggerated characteristics, cartoonish actions, and a good sense of comedic timing. In this new series, Willems’s popular characters share their favorite books, acting as the introductory and closing framework to the story. In this case, they have made an excellent choice. VERDICT Fans of Elephant and Piggie will devour this kooky easy reader, with its similar presentation and storytelling style.

We Are Growing! got me wondering what other kids’ books I might be able to find that are lawn-related, so here are 5 more books (of MANY that are out there) for kids of all ages that you might enjoy sharing with the young ones in your life.

The Little Mower That Could by Yvonne Jones (2016) – This picture book is a spin-off of the classic story, The Little Engine That Could.  It follows a little ball that gets stuck in some tall grass who asks several different kinds of lawn mowers for help, and finally a kind green electric mower steps up to cut his way through the thick grass to help the ball.  For the little mower enthusiasts in your life, Yvonne Jones weaves facts about each type of lawn mower into the story.  You can check out the book trailer at www.yvonne-jones.com/trailers  

Larry the Lawnmower by Jeanne Archambault and illustrated by Victoria Corey, (2014). In this Mom’s Choice Award-winning picture book, Larry is a dedicated little lawnmower, but when a big blue rider-mower replaces Larry on the farm, he is no longer needed and ends up being left in the shed until a young boy finds him and gives Larry a coat of fresh red paint so they can mow lawns together to earn money so the boy can buy a new bike.  This story was inspired by Jeane Archambault’s grandson who was “crazy for lawnmowers” starting at 2 years old, and the illustrations are based on scenes at Windmist Farm in Jamestown, RI on Conanicut Island, where both the author and illustrator call home.

Lawn Mower Magic (A Stepping Stone Book) by Lynne Jonell, illustrated by Brandon Dorman. This illustrated chapter book is actually a sequel to Hamster Magic, and continues to follow the four Willow children as they have recently moved to an older home in the country.  The family’s lawn mower breaks down and they can’t afford to fix or replace it, so the children dig out an older push mower that was stored in an hold tool shed.  The mower doesn’t look like much, and it’s difficult to use, but it turns out that it’s been soaking up magic for years, and it’s hungry for grass.  The children accidentally discover that the mower will move on its own, and the more it mows, the faster it goes. Just like what happened with the hamster in the first book in this series, there’s some type of magic happening.

Louie the Lawnmower series by Maria I. Morgan, illustrated by Sherrie Molitor.  In this series of 3 picture books written by Christian inspirational writer and speaker, Maria I. Morgan, Louie is a bright red lawnmower who previously lived with this friends at a hardware store.  Louie’s BIG Day! (2014), Louie & the Leaf Pile (2015), and Louie to the Rescue: The Big Dig (2017) are fun, cute, simple stories that don’t overtly talk about God or Christianity, but the themes and life lessons like sticking up for your friends, getting to know a person without judgement, and being careful with your words are ones that the author feels helps her to “share God’s truth and make an eternal difference.” Any of these 3 books can be read as a standalone story.

Lawn Boy (2009) and Lawn Boy Returns (2011) by Gary Paulsen.  Gary Paulsen is one of America’s most popular writers for young adults, and has written more than 200 excellent books for young adults. His his 5 book Hatchet series is especially well-known.  Lawn Boy and Lawn Boy Returns are short light-hearted chapter books that tell about the comical slapstick adventures that unfold when a 12 year old unnamed narrator who is broke and decides to earn some money by using his Grandfather’s old riding lawn mower that he received as a birthday gift.  When one of the boy’s customers, a persuasive day-trader Arnold Howell, barters mowing services for market investing advice on how to make money, humorous and increasingly complex economic adventures unfold as the business expands into an empire.  Paulsen gives young readers a thorough yet entertaining crash course in basic economics and business concepts, such as the stock market and the changing needs of growing business enterprises through the lens of a lawn mowing business.

Happy Reading!

– Lisa, and the Crew at Red Hen Turf Farm

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Jeremy’s Book Corner – Reviewing Traction by Gino Wickman

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Here at Red Hen, over the past 3 years, we’ve been reading and re-reading the book, “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman … and it turns out that this book has been responsible for firing quite a few employees.  I came to this realization as I was recently having lunch with a salesman from our industry when it hit me. I was talking about the book and how an employee realized that if we did what was in that book they would need to leave.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman (Click on the pic to order this book from Amazon)

Basically, Traction has a lot of great ideas to take your business to the next level, and the chapter that has helped us the most is about holding employees accountable.
Over the past 4 years there is no book that I have given out more copies of, and here at Red Hen, we tend to read a LOT of business books.

I do believe that because every business is run differently everyone will get something different out of this book. I like the way it is presented by having actionable summaries at the end of each chapter. After you read the first chapter I believe you will start to see what you can do next in your own business.

I do not believe that we would be in the great place we are in without some of the insights we’ve gained from Traction. From holding different styles of meetings from the top management down, exploring ways to increase “employee engagement”, and various new processes that have made a world of difference, just to name a few.

If you do not get something out of this book, you must be reading this from a beach and just getting a check in the mail from your company.

When I talk about employees being fired or quitting and this being influenced by Traction, I’m not just referring to our business. There are a handful of business owners that we work with on a level that goes beyond merely providing and selling a product.  Time and again, they tell me that they how much we have helped them GROW their business.

For instance, I helped another sod farm in Minnesota where the owner was having major problems with an employee … and that employee was his brother. After spending a few hours with him talking about his business, he ordered Traction to read on his Kindle while flying. After his plane landed in Minnesota, he ordered 10 copies to give to all of his employees, brother included. The end result was that the brother ended up quitting within a 2 week period. I talked to him again more recently this past December and asked, “How was the 2016 season?” He replied, “It was the best we have had in a long time.”

Another great example comes from a local landscaper business owner that also has learned from the book. This landscaper states, “We realized that everyone (is now) happier and attitudes have improved.”

I have a goal of reading 10 to 15 business books every year. Some are of course, better than others. No single book can make all business problems go away, but we strongly believe that Traction will get you started in having a better and more productive year.

Until Next Time,

Jeremy and the Red Hen Crew

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