A Board Book Every Week: No. 10
Clare Beaton’s Farmyard Rhymes (Barefoot Books 2012)
This is a collection of seven nursery rhymes all about farm animals. Some, like ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, ‘Horsie, horsie, don’t you stop’, and ‘To market, to market to buy a fat hog’ are familiar, alongside others that are new to me. They feel like old traditional ones, but everyone’s repertoire of nursery rhymes is different, and sadly some people’s is non-existent. This is a nice gentle introduction.
Here’s a good post about the value of singing nursery rhymes with babies. While I was trawling for some information to back up what I knew (from work and home) I came across, as usual, too many articles earnestly espousing something because it will help the child be a better reader etc etc. It is sad to see so much child development information couched in these terms, as if that’s the only worthwhile justification. Not everything in childhood should be about improving your child’s SAT score sometime in the future! There are more immediate skills to develop, and total value in just having a nice time, bonding with whoever is holding the book. School is a long way off and explaining everything in these limited terms is to disregard the wonder of being a very small baby to whom everything is new, and much of it pretty amazing.
But back to the book… Hens, cows, ducks and donkeys are all present in delightful felt appliqués with a folk art feel. Every page is like a simple home-made cushion, with a touch of embroidery or fancy braid (though I guess how you view that depends on the level of your sewing skills!)
The animals are bright and recognisable and there are some, but not too many, small details – flowers, trees, worms, butterflies – for pointing out later. There’s a bit of counting, a bit of animal noise-making, too. The whole thing is as gentle and fresh as the colour palette. And, as with all good baby books, you don’t have to stick to the text; you can just talk about the pictures.