"I a Koro Meketanara tetahi pamu - TI-HAI-TI-HAI-HAU... E mohio whanuitia ana tenei waiata. Engari, inaianei to Koro Meketanara he pamu ataahua kei Aotearoa tonu - a, kei taua pamu etahi kararehe whakaharahara - kei te aha ano ratou inaianei?
"Old Macdonald had a farm - e-i-e-i-o ..." Everyone knows the song. But now the farm and animals are in New Zealand and old Macdonald has a Swanndri and gumboots. Donovan Bixley's illustrations depict the beautiful New Zealand landscape - with farm animals! But what are those crazy animals up to?
There are moments when a child's excitement is so intense that the rest of the family has no choice but to join in. This was the case when Mr Seven first encountered this book. He is a quick learner, taking pride in increasing his knowledge of Te Reo, so he needed no assistance to understand the words of the song. Of course, he is already familiar with it in English, and knows the tune, so we sang our way through the text together. The artwork is delightful - colourful and funky, with real kid appeal and an authentic New Zealand feel to it.
Miss Five was soon singing along with us, and together we laughed at the pictures of the hyperactive cat, Koro Meketanara in his spotted underpants surveying the contents of the fridge, and the close-up of the pig's bottom with her tail in curlers - these were not just drawings of farm life, but little works of art on their own, each showing a hilarious take on the animal's personality. We kept stopping in mid-song to point out yet another cute detail in a picture.
I had carefully concealed the last pages of the book until we had sung our way through the text several times as I wanted the last bit to be a surprise. For the last little while I have been teaching Mr Seven to play the piano; a broken right arm caused a temporary setback as he could not use it for a few weeks. During this time I concentrated on teaching him using the bass clef and only his left hand. Now it is healed he is trying to get his right hand back to full capacity and catch up on his keyboard skills.
So when I finally turned the page and showed him the double spread of the musical accompaniment, Mr Seven's reaction was unbelievable. He shouted with excitement, grabbed the book, and went tearing over to the piano where he propped ir up and immediately tried to sight read the tune. There were two new notes (B and A) but a quick explanation from me was all he needed, then he was off, playing the music and singing along.
What a wonderful idea - to include the music so that the child can either play it himself (if he is old enough and has some keyboarding skills) or so an adult can play it while he sings. The children have had several books with CDs included, but this is the first one they have seen with music they can play themselves. I noticed that there are guitar chords included as well; that will be the next challenge for Mr Seven as his mother is teaching him to play guitar too. He is musical and loves the challenge,
I think this is one of the best value-for-money books I have reviewed to date. It has appeal to a wide age range, and for older children also provides extension opportunities (Te Reo, keyboard and guitar). It is beautifully presented and easy to read. All in all I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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