Once Upon MacDonald's Farm

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by Gammell, Stephen. (Simon and Schuster, 1981 ISBN 0-689-71379-7. Order Info.) Picture Book. Grades Grades K+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Review

Cover Art

This may not be the MacDonald with which you are familiar. This farmer has no animals so he goes to get some and comes back with a baboon, a lion and an elephant. These are not conventional animals, of course, but you'd never know it by what MacDonald tries to get them to do. His neighbor takes pity on him and give him the right animals, but that doesn't mean he'll use them in the right way. Indeed the last scene shows him going off with the chicken to plow the fields.

The only reference to the other MacDonald's farm, besides the main character's name, comes on the last page where "Ei-ei-oh" is being sung by MacDonald as he hitches up the chicken.

Gammell's black and white sketches are perfect for this quirky tale. Many times the illustrations go beyond the text and extend it. The expressions on the faces of the baboon and the lion, for instance, when MacDonald is gathering eggs and milking are hilarious. The ineptness or laziness of MacDonald is shown by the barely attached barn door, the falling down fences and the dead potted plants.

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Related Books

Cover Art

Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel. (Greenwillow, 2008 ISBN 9780060787660. Order Info.) Picture Book. Grades PreK-K.
This is a good example of how a common concept, farm animals and the noises they make, can be rendered by a master using a simple style and yet result in something that transcends its simplicity. Rich paintings which both inspire and soothe accompany predictable text: 'The Cat said, 'Meow.'" A perfect match for the preschool set or a young beginning reader.

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Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

  • Farms and Children's Literature

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