Book Review: Old Mikamba Had a Farm


Old Mikamba Had a Farm with its eye catching illustrations of wildlife from the grasslands of Africa retells the traditional rhyme.


Author and Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

Age Level: 2-7 years

Publishers: Nancy Paulson Books

ISBN: 978-0399257407

A fabulous version of the traditional nursery rhyme, Old Mikamba Had a Farm was a super hit with my nieces. They are enthralled by the book and may I say that it is an ‘enthrall worthy’ book?


In this version written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora, the central character is Old Mikamba, a farmer from Africa. The vast open grasslands give the kids a hint as to the animals on his farm.


When the animals come bounding across the landscape, you realize it is not any ordinary farm. Mikamba’s farm is a very African farm! The unexpectedness of it captured the girls’ attention immediately. Mikamba’s farm had familiar animals like the lion and zebras, but there were a few unexpected ones too. They learned about the Springboks and the dassie (so did I) and we looked up these animals on the internet to find out more about them.


The kids loved discussing how Mikamba’s farm was same or different from the traditional ‘MacDonald’s’ farm. The book has a lot of new vocabulary words for K through early elementary kids. The animal noises and the familiar tune make it a good read aloud or sing aloud for younger children. Lots of opportunities to imitate!

The illustrations did it for me! There are many textures that kids can explore and identify. I could see the girls looking at the newsprint and thinking about how it can be used to ‘draw’ pictures. A very, very clever book that makes kids think on many levels.

It does leave me wondering what the farm would be like, set in India!

Old Mikamba Had a Farm won the Caldecott Award, the ALA Notable Children’s Books, and is one of the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People


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