EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a Little Help from a Hen)

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a Little Help from a Hen), written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Matthew Myers, is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

EIEIO is a new take on an old favorite. Many kids may know the tale of Old MacDonald and his farm, but how did he get that farm in the first place?

As it turns out, it all started because Old MacDonald didn’t like to mow the lawn. First he got a goat to help him out, but that didn’t totally solve his problems. Luckily, things started to change with the help of Little Red Hen, a brilliant bird who knew a little something about ecology.

Old MacDonald and his hen began to transform the yard, but it wasn’t a pretty process! It involved hard work, mud, trash, poop, worms, and, finally, lots of seeds. Those seeds, planted in raised beds, eventually grew into vegetables that Old MacDonald enjoyed and shared with his neighbors. What began as a simple lawn turned into a wonderful organic garden!

EIEIO is a good book for introducing the concept of plant ecology and organic gardening to young readers in a fun and familiar way. I can see it being an especially great read-aloud in the spring, when many gardens are being planted, or as part of Earth Day celebrations.

Feel free to use the book trailer below if you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library!

Grandma’s Gloves

Grandma’s Gloves, written by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Julia Denos, was a nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

The young girl in this story loves spending time with her grandmother, especially in the garden. Grandma teaches her everything she knows about gardening. When Grandma becomes sick with Alzheimer’s disease (based on the context of the story), the girl points out that Grandma always remembers to feed and care for her plants.

Eventually, Grandma passes away, and the girl is extremely saddened by the loss of one of the most important people in her world. She finds solace and a closeness with her grandmother’s memory in one of the things that she and her grandma shared–gardening.

While I dread using this book for a read-aloud (I can already see myself breaking down in front of a bunch of 1st graders), I think this book deals with a topic that nearly all young people will have to face–the death of a loved one. Grandma’s Gloves demonstrates that it’s okay to be sad and that the memories of those lost can always be kept alive.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver

In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell is a great picture book for any reader–young and old alike–who wants to know more about the brilliant George Washington Carver and how to be truly “green.”

Although this book is a work of historical fiction, the substance of the book is based on the actual life and teachings of Dr. Carver. He really did spend time traveling around the South teaching others how to “listen to the plants” and use the natural resources around them to live. He educated others on how to best grow things and how they could use nature to enrich their own lives.

Having a “green” lifestyle is not a new thing, and I think this book illustrates that for young readers.

For a more in-depth study of Dr. Carver and his work, pair this book with Tonya Bolden’s biography of George Washington Carver.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver is a nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Picture Book Award.