Archive for December 30th, 2018


by Sam Juliano

While staying at the farm of Richard Garrett, Federal troops searching for President Lincoln’s killer arrived on their search but soon rode on. The unsuspecting Garrett allowed his suspicious guests to sleep in his barn, but he instructed his son to lock the barn from the outside to prevent the strangers from stealing his horses. A tip led the Union soldiers back to the Garrett farm, where they discovered assassin John Wilkes Booth Booth and accomplice David Herold in the barn. Herold came out, but Booth refused. The building was set on fire to flush Booth, but he was shot while still inside. He lived for three hours before gazing at his hands, muttering “Useless, useless,” as he died.    In the poignant British film drama Whistle Down the Wind a fugitive hides out in a barn and is befriended by children in the village who believe him to be Jesus Christ.  In William Faulkner’s 1939 short story “Barn Burning” a father named Abner Snopes is accused of burning down a barn and is told by the judge to leave the country.  The barn is a place of sexual secrets in Steinbeck’s East of Eden, yet in E.B. White’s beloved Charlottes’s Web the barn is where miracles happen and friendships that last a lifetime are forged.  In such a seemingly innocuous setting, a place where farm animals are sheltered and fed, high drama has rarely been played out in such a no-holds-barred way whether for deception, execution or coming-of-age.  The cozy environs of Margaret Wise Brown’s A Home in the Barn, however, is acutely attuned to White’s barn, where geese, a literate spider and emotional pig live in relative harmony, but this late and great children’s literature icon has rarely been served with such sensory overload as she has here by another icon, the much heralded Jerry Pinkney who does far more than pictorially document the activity in this rustic institution, but invites readers to smell, hear and feel the farmyard symphony contained in communal domesticity. (more…)

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