Early Elem – Old MacDonald

Grimly, Gris. Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Orchard Books, 2017.  Unpaged. 9781338112436. $17.99.  PreK – 2.

Grimly takes us on a delightful romp through the barnyard in his version of the familiar song. We first meet the farmer, wearing a flower in his hat, as he ambles into the barn to gather some eggs from the chickens. As he does his chores around the farm, MacDonald meets a variety of farm animals, including a donkey.  After finishing his work, the farmer returns to the barn on his tractor with all the animals parading behind him, only to find that a ferocious bear is in the barn. The farmer and the animals run for their lives to the refrain of a Grr-Grr here and Grr-Grr there. The illustrations are the winning element of this book and tell a story on their own, separate from the lyrics.  For instance, there is a rationale for the order in which the animals are mentioned. The farmer rides the donkey so he can carry corn to feed the pigs and then helps the runt of the litter find food elsewhere. Grimly uses watercolors and a whimsical style that is sure to make the reader laugh out loud. The drawings of the energetic farmer show him in constant motion as he performs his chores or plays the fiddle.  Readers will find it hard not to tap their feet or hum along with the story. The illustrations are detailed and children will enjoy examining them closely to catch some nuance, such as what the cat did with the mouse or to see a chick peeking out of an egg. In the back matter, the author discusses the origin of the song and then describes his own childhood growing up on a farm in Nebraska. There are some nostalgic family photographs and a copy of the lyrics and music. THOUGHTS:  This is a gem of a book that is perfect for farm-themed storytimes. Music teachers will want to include this in their units on American songs. A great and timeless addition to all elementary library collections.

782.42, Vocal Music       Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

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