Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz | Book Review
Gail Cornwall | The Children’s Book Review | July 16, 2016
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (2016)
What to expect: Music, Construction, Wordplay, Animals, Gender Equality
Old MacDonald Had a Truck is all about putting a new twist on the beloved, playing with expectations to step things up a notch. If you or your kid likes music, construction, wordplay, animals, or gender equality, you simply must check it out.
The book answers a perennial problem: how do you interest young kids in the written word? I’ve always loved the idea of library and bookstore storytimes. In my imagination, I sit in a comfy spot not too far from the front, the spellbound child on my lap melting into me. In reality, my toddlers always preferred to roam around the room, their perpetual search for choking hazards and social interaction set aside only for the songs.
Some books like Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a Car scratch the melodic itch through rhythm and rhyme (e.g., “Jack, from the backseat, said to his Dad, This car is OK. This car is not bad.”). Others include music in the narrative. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons rocks. So does Old MacDonald Had a Truck.
This fabulous picture book had my kids rapt, alternately giggling and howling out lines like:
Old MacDonald had a MOTOR GRADER
With a SCRAPE RAKE here
and a RAKE SCRAPE there
here a SCRAPE, there a RAKE
everywhere a SCRAPE RAKE.
In Dinosaur Dig-esque fashion, it’s unclear what Old MacDonald and his farm full of animals are up to with the pieces of machinery revealed in each verse. Then comes the big reveal: they’re building a monster truck racing course complete with grandstands and floodlights!
The colorful, appealingly drawn background scenes provide loads of detail and silliness to engage discussion. There’s a pig in a hardhat looking mildly startled by a front loader run amok. A cow sits politely eating a sandwich. This stuff just kills with the under-8 set.
The illustrations also subtly challenge gender norms, showing Old MacDonald’s similarly weathered female companion working as an auto mechanic throughout and driving the truck in the final pages as he rides in the passenger seat.
Children receive exactly what they’re looking for from Old MacDonald Had a Truck: enough familiarity to be comforting, but the novelty, complexity, and whimsy needed to enthrall. Take my 22-month-old’s advice and “read Old Don Tuk, read Old Don Tuk!”
Add this book to your collection: Old MacDonald Had a Truck
About the Author
Steve Goetz was inspired to write his debut picture book after his son began to sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with alternative lyrics. He lives with his family in San Francisco.
About the Illustrator
Eda Kaban is a native of Turkey. She now teaches at Academy of Art University, in addition to exhibiting work in galleries and illustrating children’s books. She lives in San Francisco.
Old MacDonald Had a Truck, written by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban, was reviewed by Gail Cornwall. Discover more books like Old MacDonald Had a Truck by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Construction, Farm Animals, Nursery Rhyme Books, Song Books, Transportation, and Truck.