Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Working Title Press (2013).
Why would anyone want to live on a farm where the winds are so fierce that even the pigs are blown away? Fortunately Mum is a clever inventor and can think of one very good reason.
A hilarious picture book with a very pertinent message about wind power and environmental sustainability, by one of Australia’s favourite picture book teams.
From the moment they spy The Windy Farm's cover - pigs with comical expressions being blown hither and thither by the relentless wind - kids will settle back, ready for a grin and a giggle. The Windy Farm will not disappoint them. MacLeod's spare text cleverly leaves room for Smith to interpret the details. There's tension too in the family's problems, and cleverness in the way Mum the inventor solves the problems.
As I said in my review of Heather Fell in the Water, MacLeod and Smith are a brilliant writer/illustrator partnership. Each has a great sense of humour, and that makes double the fun for young readers. I love that there's a strong thread of Aussie ingenuity in the book, and a real Australian flavour in elements like the fuel stove, Dad's Akubra and the corrugated iron dunny perched on the side of a very windy hill.
Despite the humour, there is an underlying theme about environmental sustainability that will stay with kids. I like too that there are plenty of points for discussion: Why did Grandpa never blow away? Should Uncle Jeff have lent his relatives money? Is being rich always a good thing? Would YOU like to be rich? Why does Grandpa say "Never mind", especially at the end of the book.
The Windy Farm in sturdy hardback makes a fun choice for home or for a library's environmental resources. There are excellent Teacher Notes by Janet McLean. I predict children will enjoy the book and want to re-read it often.
You might also like to check out my review of Sister Madge's Book of Nuns, another MacLeod/Smith book, or my review of MacLeod's My Extraordinary Life and Death. Find more children's book reviews via the Reviews button in The Book Chook blog's right sidebar.