Dahlov Ipcar's "Hardscrabble Harvest"

Trying to grow fruit and vegetables — especially in the wilds of Maine — is a constant battle with Mother Nature.

She usually wins. But you keep at it. Sure, you get discouraged by the deer and rabbits who treat your lettuce bed like a salad bar. Yes, it's always fun when raccoons knock down your cornstalks and nibble away. But come fall, the bushels of tomatoes, giant pumpkins and sweet apples make all the work worth it.

So goes the story in Dahlov Ipcar's "Hardscrabble Harvest." Originally printed in 1976 and re-released by Islandport Press in September, this classic children's book is a lighthearted look at the farming life. Inspired by Ipcar's own experiences — she and her husband, Adolf, moved to Georgetown, Maine, from Manhattan in the 1930s and tried to live off the land. For decades, their farmhouse had no electricity, no running water. They lived simply, chopping their own wood, cutting their own ice and, as "Hardscrabble Harvest" recounts, growing their own food.

Though the story is engaging, it is, as always, the illustrations that really set this book apart. Ipcar has a singular style, and her unabashed use of color is refreshing. "Hardscrabble Harvest" is the fourth Ipcar title that Islandport Press has published in the last year and a half. The Yarmouth-based independent publisher also has reprinted "The Cat at Night," "My Wonderful Christmas Tree" and "The Little Fisherman," written by Margaret Wise-Brown.

We can't wait to see more of Ipcar's work back in print. And we're holding out hope for a new book, too. Ipcar, now 92, still calls Georgetown home, and she continues to paint.

Stranger things have happened — like coaxing tomatoes and cucumbers out of Maine's clay soil.

For more information, visit Islandport Press


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