cover image Old MacDonald

Old MacDonald

Amy Schwartz. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-46189-4

In Schwartz's (A Teeny Tiny Baby) exuberant interpretation, the old standby song becomes a family affair. The opening spread (""Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!"") shows the lay of the farmland, while in the next spread (""And on this farm/ he had a rooster,/ E-I-E-I-O!""), the cock crows, and a little girl rouses the farmer, his wife and baby from bed to start a full day's work. Old MacDonald and his daughter leave mother and baby behind as they tend to the cheeping chicks, the mooing cow and the baaing sheep. At lunchtime, quacking ducks are the backdrop for a family picnic near a pond. Schwartz's boldly hued gouache art in shades of barn-bright red, straw yellow and spring green offers plenty of particulars to keep little ones entertained: the girl chases a duck that has purloined her sandwich, a goat tugs mischievously at MacDonald's coat. A refreshing departure from the traditional lyrics calls for a neighborly gathering at dinnertime; a cozy crowd fills the dining room with ""a yakkity yak here and a yakkity yak there,"" followed by a tune on the fiddle (""with a tra la la here and a tra la la there""). Sparked by familiar refrains, Schwartz's large-scale, cheerfully busy artwork supplies an uplifting story line. An ideal sing-along, whether one-on-one or among friends. Ages 3-6. (May)