Book Review: Old Mikamba Had a Farm

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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