Title: Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Author: Steve Goetz
Illustrator: Eda Kaban
Published in Australia by Hardie Grant Books and in the United States by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

It is books like this that make me really, really miss story time! This fun depiction of an old favourite will delight young audiences, whether it is a lap read with an individual child or a group of children. Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald drive onto a farm in their truck. The anthropomorphic animals are very busy in the farmyard. The verbal text on the first double page spread invites the reader to turn the page with the placement of the text in the bottom right hand corner reading “And on that farm he had an…”. The first item is an excavator, and throughout the book additional earth moving equipment appears in both the verbal and visual texts. Meanwhile, in each double page spread where the above-mentioned text is repeated, Mrs. MacDonald and some animals are busy rebuilding the truck. There are two plot lines in the visual text, alternating according to the verbal text. The visual text shows Mrs. MacDonald repairing and fixing the truck, while this is not mentioned in the verbal text. This mismatching discourse between the visual and verbal texts runs throughout the book until the conclusion, coming together in an unexpected and thrilling way. The plot, characters and setting are used in an authentic, non-traditional way in the adaptation of the traditional song.

The cartoon-like  illustrations are rendered in pencil and gouache and composed digitally. There is much action in all the double page spreads, encouraging discussion and enabling young readers to create their own narrative. The end papers are decorated with small pictures of tools and equipment used for road building.

This would be a lot of fun to read to a group of young ones and has an abundance of possibilities for activities during and after reading. What a great book with which to hook young readers. The simple verbal text allows them to read this themselves, becoming a powerful catalyst for their first and future independent reading experiences.

Suggested Activities

  • Re-write the story in a conventional style, with a beginning, middle and end.
  • Adapt the traditional song for a topic of the children’s choosing, write and illustrate as a class/group book.
  • On the first double page spread the verbal text ends with “And on that farm he had an…”. Discuss what might be next, after we turn the page. When do we use “a” and “an” when introducing a noun? Discuss the general rule, “an” before a vowel, “a” before a consonant, depending on the pronunciation of the work. Make lists from children’s writing or from other books where pronunciation is important, such as “a union”.
  • Recreate the farm scene in a sand pit, or tray.
  • Using coloured paper cut into various shapes, (triangles, circles, rectangles), have children construct a vehicle. Paste as a collage onto paper, or large group mural.