Books & Literature

Book Review: Let’s Build a Backyard, by Mike Lucas, illustrated by Daron Parton

PICTURE BOOK: Imagine designing and building your very own backyard! Written by real-life engineer and CBCA-Notable author Mike Lucas, and illustrated by NZ favourite, Daron Parton.

A beautiful picture book perfect for young budding gardeners.

Born in the UK, but moving to Adelaide in 2010, Mike Lucas works as an engineer as well as owning a bookshop. Somehow, he manages to also write books in his spare time. His first book, Olivia’s Voice, was a Notable in the 2018 CBCA Awards. He also wrote Vanishing.

Lucas used his knowledge of the building industry to write Let’s Build a House, and has now followed it up with his new picture book, Let’s Build a Backyard.

An inviting, colourful front cover by Daron Parton is enough to encourage any young child to look further. Scarecrows, wheelbarrows, compost bins and a pond are just some of the pictures on both the front and back cover.

Let’s Build a Backyard, like Lucas’ previous book, is a step-by-step look at preparing and then building a backyard. Each double page shows the child and their father (suitably sun safe with their wide brimmed hats) planning, building, discovering and enjoying their backyard. Daron Parton’s delightful illustrations accompany Lucas’ short text and include three larger descriptive words:

“Create a vegetable patch.

Find a place in the sun.

Plant the seeds. Let’s get this done.

Beans and sprouts for everyone!  Yum! Yum! Yum!”

Once again, Lucas has used rhyme as his vehicle. The very young child need only look at the pictures to understand what is happening, but as the child gets older, they will engage with the three words on the page, then the rhyme and eventually memorise or be able to read the story themselves. This allows children of any age to access the story.

There is lots to talk about on each page as we watch the garden come to life, as the soil is prepared, seeds are planted, homes for the wildlife are created, and the space is appreciated.

At a time when people are spending more time in the backyard, this is the perfect book to read to any young family members who are excited to contribute to their play area. Allowing children to help plan their play space is the perfect way to get them involved.

Let’s Build a Backyard could be used in a school setting in outdoor classrooms/gardens and would make an excellent addition to any library. The ideas can be built upon depending on the space and requirements and help give any child a sense of belonging and achievement once the big or small project is completed.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Hachette Australia
Released: April 2022
RRP: $24.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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