Susan Vaught is the author of Edgar Award–winning novel Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy. It was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and The Horn Book called it “compelling, offbeat, and fearless.” Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry received three starred reviews, and Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood’s Revenge was called “an excellent addition to middle grade shelves” by School Library Journal. She works as a neuropsychologist at a state psychiatric facility, specializing in helping people with severe and persistent mental illness, intellectual disability, and traumatic brain injury. She lives on a farm with her wife and son in rural western Kentucky.
Kelly Murphy is a New York Times bestselling author-illustrator and recipient of the E.B. White Award. She teaches illustration at her alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design. Kelly currently lives in her native New England, surrounded by the flora and fauna featured in Together We Grow. Find out more at KelMurphy.com.
In times of need, uneasy alliances align. Enemies become partners, if only for a little while.This sweet picture book, told in rhyming couplets, pairs Vaught's lean, soothing text with Murphy's exquisite illustrations. Vaught is a practicing neuropsychologist and a lover of animals. Both traits play well in this tale that imagines a dark and stormy night in which its barnyard beasts must decide whether to shelter outsiders. A family of foxes is caught out in the storm, and the mother is desperate to protect her kits's. Understandably, the farm animals, normally prey for the fox, are not eager to share the warmth of their barn. However, the generous actions of the tiniest among them, a yellow duckling, allows the other creatures to see that in this time of crisis, even foxes need refuge. Murphy creates stunning images of deep blue stormy skies, and cows', pigs', chicken's, and other animals' emotion-filled eyes. Scenes that shift between the cold, wet out-of-doors and the cozy, well-lit interior emphasize the foxes' predicament. Vaught's clipped, staccato couplets speed the pacing along, occasionally halting so readers can take in Murphy's well-timed wordless spreads. One, in which mother fox and duckling commune silently, muzzle to bill, will have readers lingering and pondering.Emotionally charged and eloquently rendered in words and art, this picture book is worth owning and cherishing. (Picture book. 4-8)
– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW, March 1, 2020
With a thunderstorm threatening, the animals on the farm seek shelter in the barn. The darkening sky, heavy rain, and lashing wind are contrasted with the warm, yellow light spilling from the barn, which promises a haven from the elements. The building fills with the usual sheep, horses, pigs, and chickens, as well as a raccoon, squirrel, turtle, and skunk seeking respite from the torrential rain. When a mother fox comes looking for a dry spot for herself and her kits, though, the others tell her, “Go away! We’re full today!” It takes one of the smallest critters in the barn to show empathy and literally reach out toward the fox and her family. The group’s world expands when they recognize how needlessly fearful and selfish they’re being in not sharing their safe, secure refuge. Lovely illustrations using acrylic paints, oil paints, and gel medium create charming images of the vast array of animals that get along harmoniously in the small space. The tale is told in short rhyming couplets that, along with the appealing pictures, present a sense of unity among the diverse barn population. Here is a gentle tale of inclusion and fairness that children will clearly understand.