Old Mikamba Had a Farm

Rachel Isadora, Author, Rachel Isadora, Illustrator
Rachel Isadora. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-25740-7
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 10/31/2013
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As she did in There Was a Tree, Isadora sets this riff on a classic children’s song in Africa. Using “Old MacDonald” as a template, her rendition introduces 14 wild residents of a game farm and the sounds they make. With a few exceptions (dassie, springbok), the species will be familiar to most readers, and their phonetically punchy utterings, which include a baboon’s “OOH-HA-HA” and a wildebeest’s “HONK-HONK,” are fun to imitate while singing along. Though Isadora’s earth-toned, mixed-media illustrations are uncluttered—the animals appear against mostly white backdrops with minimal landscape—there is complexity within. The collages feature an inventive assortment of textures and patterns: elephants’ and rhinos’ hides are newsprint, wildebeests’ fur resembles wood grain, and giraffes’ spots are swatches of patterned textiles; borders feature the scrubby vegetation and low hills of the book’s plains setting. Intriguing incidental facts about each animal (no two zebras have the same stripe pattern; there are more than 370 species of parrots) are included at the end of the book, which strikes a neat balance between being rousing and soothing. Ages 3–5. (Oct.)
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