Thursday, April 3, 2014

E-I-E-I-O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (With a Little Help from Hen) by Judy Sierra

E-I-E-I-O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (With a Little Help from Hen) by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Rating: 4 stars

Now, just in time for Spring planting, we get the real scoop on Old MacDonald and that farm of his.

It turns out, all he had at the beginning was a house.  With a pretty big yard.  That needed a lot of mowing.  It needed so much mowing that that MacDonald guy decided to retire his mower and get a goat.  But the goat clearly had obedience issues: he ate the bushes instead.  MacDonald got smart and got a chicken.  Turns out, the chicken was top-notch and had a lot of good ideas about this yard of his.

She suggested to him that they tear up the grass.  No more mowing?  MacDonald was IN!  Then add lots of stuff to that muddy pit--trash, his own clothes, what he was eating...anything and everything goes in.  Even poop!  And finally, a warm worm family to make something of the mess.
"I love my yard / But mowing grass is mighty hard."

During this smelly process, illustrator Matthew Myers shows us protestors and complainers and haters (just to use slang as if I'm cooler than I am) in the background.  They complain about whatever he is doing: they hate how he doesn't keep his yard nicely mowed, they write picket signs as the yard turns into a brown mess, and they hold those signs even higher when the hen directs MacDonald to add horse manure and mix well.

You've probably seen what's coming: With all the ingredients already added, the worms create compost from this muddy, stinky pit.  Because the next thing he adds is seeds.  All sorts of seeds.  Myers gives us readers a fantastic over-and-under the ground illustration of carrots, beets, potatoes, onions as they use that soil to grow bigger and richer.  MacDonald has too much of a good thing (vegetables), so he opens a farmer's market to sell and share the fruits of his labor.

The end result: an urban farm!
Who knew Old MacDonald was a hipster?!
And those haters put down their picket signs and dig in to the good stuff.

I think this is a great book to get kids excited about gardening and get them thinking about composting. And even if you know you'll never compost OR garden, it's still a good read with wild, vibrant illustrations to go along with the story.  Judy Sierra has written some of my favorite rhyming books, especially Wild About Books.  (Click here for complete list of my reviews on her books.)  I completely look to her to teach me how to do it the right way, but this book has a few non-rhyming hiccups that keep it in the good, not great category.

But Kiefer sure doesn't care about that.  I've read it to him twice in one night.  For some reason he loves lawn mowers, so he loves this book regardless of the hiccups his critical mama sees!

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