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Authors: Lois Lenski

Corn-Farm Boy

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Corn-Farm Boy

Lois Lenski


my corn-farm children

with love


Listen to the Tall Corn Grow

I The New Tractor

II A Bird in Hand

III Around in Circles

IV Doctor Dick

V Picnic in the Grove

VI The Lost Corn Knife

VII In the Cornfield

VIII The White Pigeon and the Sick Hog

IX Stubby Tail

X Market Day

XI Before Snow Flies

A Biography of Lois Lenski


The fact that American children are carrying on this series of Regional books has been very gratifying to me. I am continually receiving suggestions from child readers for new locations. They write, “Come and see where we live and what we do. Please come and write about us.

My choice of Iowa for a corn story came about in this way. In the fall of 1951, city children in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wrote me suggesting a corn story. One little girl said, “My grandfather lives on a farm and has lots of troubles
which she wanted to tell me about. I replied that if I wrote such a story, I would need the help of real corn-farm children

Such help came soon afterwards, when the children of a rural school, Henry No. 5, in Plymouth County, began writing me under the guidance of their teacher, Mrs. Celeste Frank. They took me, through letters and drawings sent over two winters, into the very heart of their lives, describing outward details of farm life and especially the way they themselves lived, worked and played

Through the help of an Iowa women's radio program, news began to circulate through the state that I was looking for material for a “corn story.” The radio brought me letters from corn-farm housewives, among them: Mrs. Lloyd Dougal, Mrs. Opal Winship, Mrs. Carrie Wiggans and many others. These women were helpful in interpreting the woman's point of view

Children in other schools began to write
Graettinger, Kalma, Otho, Oskaloosa, Manning, Rose Hill, Doon, Blockton and Rising City, Nebraska. Some schools sent historical material, others statistics about corn and farm products, or publicity booklets and guidebooks. What I wanted most and found hardest to get were stories of the everyday life of the corn-farm child. It was difficult for teachers to understand that the child's everyday life in his own family
, as lived today
instead of in the past, was important enough to become the contents of a book

The Plymouth County children made an outstanding contribution. To them and their teacher go my sincere thanks and appreciation. When I spent the month of July 1953 in Iowa, I visited them in their homes, came to know and love them and their families, and learned many things I could not have learned by correspondence or research. I could now visualize my characters, as my composite family grew in my imagination, and place them in an authentic setting. The children themselves benefited by the whole experience
their gift for expressing themselves in the language and graphic arts increased through their interest in the project. Most of all, they acquired a new evaluation of the significance of their own daily lives as a vital strand in the warp and woof of the American pattern of living

In Iowa I saw the peak of the corn-growing season. I thrilled over the sheer beauty of the countryside with its rolling hills and patchwork squares of rich green and gold-colored fields. I rode tractors, walked between the dark rows of tall hybrid corn then bursting into tassel, and watched the combining of oats in the hot bright sunshine. I felt a pronounced regional feeling in this northwest corner of the state, indigenous in its agricultural economy. I sensed how deeply the children's lives grew out of their environment

Two eleven-year-old boys were invaluable in the help they gave me
Noel Leinen and Ronald Dougal. From them I learned how a corn-farm boy thinks and feels as well as what he does outwardly. They acquainted me not only with the joys and humor of farm life, but also with its sorrows, hazards and danger, for with these they lived closely, too. Their frankness, honesty and confidence were gratifying

This book is as true and honest as I could make it. All the incidents have happened in real life to some living person. None are distorted or exaggerated for effect. Pages of conversation were taken down verbatim. No attempt has been made to invent or impose upon my background a synthetic, author-manufactured plot. It is my firm belief that the happenings of daily life, episodic as they may appear, form the only sound basis for plotting an honest story
a story of vital family relationships and the give-and-take of daily life in a chosen setting

Human life in its basic essence needs no glamorization or exaggeration. It has all the elements of vital drama inherent in itself

My earnest thanks go to all the men, women and children of this region who contributed of their own experiences to enrich this book

Lois Lenski

Lutean Shores

Tarpon Springs, Florida

December 18, 1953


Song of the Corn-farm Children

Copyright 1954 by Lois Lenski and Clyde Robert Bulla

LISTEN TO THE TALL CORN GROW may be freely used or reprinted by any schools or teachers interested, for the use of their children. Its reprinting for any commercial use is, however, forbidden by copyright

BOOK: Corn-Farm Boy
4.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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