I’ve got a book for you!
This large-format book contains twelve poems about animals commonly found on a farm: rooster, cow, pony, dog, sheep, barn cat, goat, pig, bees, bull, and two reptiles—turtle and snake. Elliott’s poems, printed in large, bold typeface, are short and playful—as in The Sheep: The Sheep/Began his woolly life/as gentle as a/lamb. Too bad/he turned/into a/ram./BAM! The illustration that accompanies this poem shows two rams butting horns in an orchard while a ewe watches. Her little lamb looks out at readers from the page. As in The Sheep, the titles are often a part of the poems.
Tell their story,
sweet and old.
It begins in clover;
and ends with gold.
Elliott’s rhyming poems, for the most part, are simple and straightforward—but he does include figures of speech in some. For example, the pig’s tail is “As coy as a ringlet.” The snake “coils/in the/garden/like a/ spring…”
Holly Meade’s art truly brings Elliott’s poetry to another level. Known for her mixed media illustrations, Meade used woodcuts for the first time in On the Farm to bring these domestic and wild animals to life. Meade takes us on a tour of the farm with her big, bold illustrations. Her dynamic double-page spreads include scenes of a rooster crowing his head off near the henhouse, a goat chewing on laundry hanging from a clothesline, and a close-up of a snake slithering through a vegetable garden. Meade’s stunning artwork enhances Elliot’s spare text without overwhelming it.
The poems and the illustrations meld together well to produce an attractive package of pictures and poems about farm animals with child-appeal. On the Farm would be a great book to share with children in preschool and kindergarten.
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Suggestion: Pair On the Farm with the 2007 edition of Margaret Wise Brown’s book Nibble Nibble that was illustrated by Wendell Minor. This edition of Nibble Nibble contains just five of the poems included in the original—but Minor’s gorgeous watercolor paintings of bunnies, mice, a fox, fish, a robin, lightning bugs, and butterflies really add to the charm of Brown’s classic poems. (Note: You can read my review of Nibble Nibble here. You can view a flip book of Nibble Nibble here.)
One of Wendell Minor's Illustrations from Nibble Nibble