Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review, When No-one's Looking On the Farm

Isn't it fascinating to think about what happens when no-one is looking? I'm still not sure what goes on in the dead of night when the toys on my study shelves are all alone. And as for the farm -  what do all those animals get up to?

When No-one's Looking On the Farm was written by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, and published by Hardie Grant Egmont (2009). It is a lovely picture book for children that exposes - the secret life of farm animals! The book designers have included a fold-out flap to reveal those animal antics, building tension before we can open the flap and see. I predict kids will chuckle over the revealed animals acting completely out of character.

The ducks in the pond
swim and paddle all day.
They dip-dive and swirl
in fountains of spray.
But when no-one's looking...

Fraillon's rhyming text is simple but effective. Children will love to join in with the repeated: "But when no-one's looking..." Fraillon uses words full of colour and personality too - scritch-scratch, squelch, snort-snuff, stomp-clump. The final page prompts kids to ponder what it is THEY do when no-one's looking.

Masciullo's illustrations are colourful and textured with the look of acrylic on canvas. They are not only tactile, but immediate and spontaneous, with lots of movement. They also encourage children to "see" from different perspectives. Teachers and parents who are keen to develop visual literacy skills in their children will love this aspect of When No-one's Looking On the Farm. At times we are even underneath the animals, looking up. Something to notice, and experiment with in their own art work.

Curricula often include a unit on The Farm. This picture book would be an excellent choice for that, for school and public libraries, or for parents who want a visual and poetic treat for their children.

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