I read aloud to a wide range of ages; from almost seventeen down to four. (Though I am sure the eighteen month old little guy is gaining much from our reading even when he never stops moving.) . Having this mixed audience stretches everyone. Not only do my younger ones encounter literature they could not read independently for various reason, but my older ones have the opportunity to enjoy stories from their past. They also are able to enjoy books that while designed for younger readers still has a worthy story to tell.
And such was the case with Escape from Baxter’s Barn. It is a simple tale of a barn full of animals. Burdock, the one-eyed barn cat, has stolen a bit of time behind the kitchen’s warm stove. While he is enjoying a bit of warmth and coziness, he overhears terrifying news that is going to change the life of the animals living in Baxter’s Barn.
Burdock shares the impending doom with his fellow barn mates and they begin to plan how they can escape before the barn is burned down. At first it seems hopeless. Each night the barn is locked and the animals are not able to get in and out of their stalls. How will the get away? If they escape, where do they go?
As the story plays out, the animals discover that they each have a unique and important part to play in their escape. No one can escape on their own. Except Burdock. Burdock moves freely in and out of the barn. With this comes a moral dilemma for Burdock. Does he leave alone and save himself? Or does he stay behind with his friends and risk not being saved at all?
While Escape from Baxter’s Barn is predictable in the personalities of the animals and the outcome, there is still beauty and goodness in this little book. Friendship, sacrifice, determination, and team work are always worth reading about. Those who love Charlotte’s Web and other such animal stories, will find the characters in Baxter’s Barn endearing. It works beautifully as a read aloud and my younger ones enjoyed a simpler tale after some intense reading.