Picture Book – Sue MacDonald Had a Farm

Sue MacDonald had a book. The words made sense. But then the vowels decide to take off for a vacation, and suddenly she’s left with nothing. Frantically running after the vowels, Sue manages to capture them and return to her reading.

Sung to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and featuring the chorus “AEIOU”, this could easily have fallen into the trap of being too clever for its own good. Fortunately for all involved, the author and illustrator manage to pull it off, coming across as smart and funny. It even took me a moment or two to notice that each vowel’s adventure features words containing that vowel. This is an area where the author made a smart choice: instead of having the A hanging out with aardvarks eating apples in Australia – which would have been beating you over the head with the letter A, and which would have become ever more contrived as we traveled on towards U – he chose instead words like “day” or “train”. These get the point across, but much more subtly, and in a style that a child is far more likely to run across in real life.

The illustrations are bright and cute, done in ink and water color. There is a medium amount of detail in the pictures, not enough to distract from the story, but not so little that it is a cartoon.

With a measure of wit (the inevitable arrival of a disgruntled Y at the end of the story still managed to be funny, even though I was expecting it) and excellent pictures, this book is a winner.

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