Old Macdonald had a farm … and now you can have one, too. Make & Play Farm is no run-of-the-mill children’s book. What it is, instead, is a cute collection of farm-themed activities sure to grab the attention of inquisitive toddlers. Learn how to make horse handprints, grow your own radishes and sing a farmyard song while you whip up some fruit and vegetable snacks. Not tired yet? Play a game, make a mask or get started on assembling the set of 20 push-out people and animals.
The book’s robust construction – it’s made from stiff, thick cardboard – makes for easy-to-turn pages and guarantees a reasonable lifespan for the play pieces. It’s a snap to pop out the farmers, children, animals and other farm-ish bits and pieces (including a scarecrow, a mouse on a hay bale, a pitchfork and a tractor). Placing the ‘feet’ on the characters, however, is a bit tricky for little fingers (my two-year-old co-reviewer had a go by himself but quickly lost interest when the small shapes kept falling off). With the help of some adult assistance this challenge can be overcome.
There’s a retro, mid-century style to this charming book’s artwork. The illustrations are aesthetically appealing and simple, with subtle and attractive colour choices that are a welcome change from some of the other garish offerings currently available for children. Los Angeles illustrator Joey Chou creates concept art for animated movies in addition to his work on picture books and well-known brands such as Target, FAO Schwartz and Disneyland. Fans can check out more examples of his talent on his website, including a stunning mural he completed for Sony Animation.
Make & Play Farm remains appealing to small readers even after the play pieces have been pushed out of their frames. My companion picked up the book again and again, and had lots of fun manoeuvring his farm friends around the couch. It’s an E-I-E-I-Oh yes from us!
The other titles in the Make & Play series are Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Nativity and Safari.
Reviewed by Jo Vabolis
Rating out of 10: 10
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: May 2018