Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book #231: Young MacDonald by David Milgrim

Image from OpenLibrary.org
We all know about Old MacDonald who had a farm, but what about his son, young MacDonald? Young MacDonald isn't content to live with regular farm animals, so he builds a machine in the barn that combines animals. Using the rhyme scheme of the original Old MacDonald song, Young MacDonald creates animals like the Hig (a horse crossed with a pig), the Shicken (a sheep crossed with a chicken), and finally the Bog (a boy crossed with a dog)! Luckily, this young scientist is able to un-mix all the animals just in time for dinner.

When read aloud, the text is a test of your diction and enunciation skills (Can you say "Deese" 5 times fast?), but kids will love the silliness of the idea. The illustrations are cartoon-like with exaggerated bodies and heads and stick thin limbs. Milgrim mixes one dimensional elements with sunlight and shadows, to create a a sense of depth. There's a lighthearted feeling of fun and playfulness as the animals enthusiastically join in the experimenting with the machine.

This book is fun to read or sing aloud, but make sure you practice a few times because of the tongue twisting words.

Use this book for a joke and riddle themed storytime for preschool or elementary aged kids. Try pairing it with books like, Mr. Putney's Quacking Dog, Apples and Oranges: Going Bananas with Pairs, or Guess Again! Follow up with some "What Do You Get When You Cross" jokes, such as:

What do you get if you cross a zebra and a pig? 
Striped sausages.

What do you get if you cross a giraffe and a dog?
An animal that likes to chase low flying aeroplanes.

What do you get when you cross a nervous cow with a camel?
Lumpy milkshake!

What do you get when you cross a frog and a bunny?
A ribbit!

You can also combine the names of animals and decide what you'd call them. If you crossed a kangaroo and a fish, would you call it a "fangaroo" or a "kish"? Have kids illustrate their favorite combined animal. This promotes wordplay and helps kids think about the sounds and syllables in the names of animals.

Do a mixed up animal craft, such as this one posted by The SEEDS Network, which uses precut paper animal pieces that kids can mix and match. You could also cut photographs out of old magazines and have kids combine those to create animals of their own.

-Amy

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