Quattlebaum and Bryant follow up their successful Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond (2011) with new lyrics to the same song, while keeping the nature focus.
This time, Jo MacDonald and her cousin Mike make a garden. From digging the earth and planting the seeds, to watering, harvesting and enjoying the “fruits” of their labors, the two care for their garden habitat and the animals that visit it. Readers can tend their own imaginary gardens along with the pair, as the illustrations and text suggest motions to accompany the familiar tune. Careful observers can track the new plants and animals that arrive with each page turn and read more about them in the backmatter, which also includes some garden facts and tips, comprehension questions, activity extension ideas and a list of resources for gardening information specifically geared toward children. Bryant’s watercolors reflect a childlike enthusiasm. While her whole-garden view allows readers to track the animals and plants that accumulate throughout the song, this also makes it difficult to spy the smallest ones. . . . this is likely to be a popular spring and garden story time choice.
— Kirkus Reviews (January 4, 2012)
To the reworking of the familiar song, the author has brought the four seasons of a garden to life. Jo, the redheaded granddaughter of Old MacDonald, and her friend Mike enjoy the outdoors and the work of planting a wildlife-friendly garden. The dirt flies from the shovel “with a dig-dig here, and a dig-dig there,” and the kids flap their arms like a bird’s wings, “with a flit-flit here, and a flit-flit there.” The observant eye will find seven wild creatures enjoying the garden, and careful readers will read the plant labels and find the seven that are featured. Two concluding pages identify the flora and fauna and suggest relevant indoor activities, such as drawing a picture of the sunflower, planting a seed, and naming the four vegetables Jo and Mike planted. Pretty to look at, easy to sing along to, and a nice introduction to wildlife-habitat creation.
— School Library Journal (June 2012)
Planting a garden can provide food for people and animals. Birds, insects and other creatures can settle down in a safe eco-friendly environment that children can be proud of. Children will also love watching their newly planted garden sprout to life. Children can read along and sing a song to the tune of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” with Jo, the granddaughter of Old McDonald, and her friend. Young readers and parents too, will clap their hands and tap their toes while watching the progress of the garden appear from one page to the next. Jo and her friend plant radishes, lettuce, sunflowers and summer squash. They water and till the soil and watch their garden grow and grow. “And in that garden flew a bird, E-I-E-I-O. With a flit-flit here and a flit-flit there, here a flit, there a flit, everywhere a flit-flit. Jo MacDonald had a garden, E-I-E-I-O.” Quattlebaum has created a fun way to teach children about gardening. Soft pastel illustrations truly invite young readers along to plant, sing and learn about gardens. The back of the book offers information about community gardening. Kids will learn how earthworms are a gardener’s best friend or how toads eat pesky insects that can harm the plants. Also included are indoor activities, how to be a beginning gardener and website resources that will help readers choose and cultivate the most suitable seeds and plants.
— Children’s Literature – Kristi Bernard (July 2012)
In the second book of the Jo MacDonald series, Old MacDonald’s granddaughter Jo and her cousin Mike plant and tend a vegetable garden. Adapting the familiar E-I-E-I-O song to the new theme, Quattlebaum’s rhyming verses lend themselves to sing-along sessions. Endearing ink-and-watercolor illustrations show the garden’s progress as Jo and Mike dig, plant, water, and, finally, pick tomatoes and squash. Meanwhile, seven critters arrive to share the garden. Discussing the plants and animals illustrated and suggesting outdoor activities related to gardens, the informative back matter rounds out this amiable picture book.
— Booklist (American Library Assn.) (May 2012)
This book is a follow-up to Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, with a new spin on the old song. It focuses on nature and teaches young people how to start and care for a garden while singng the lyrics to the familiar tune. Children can follow along as well as participate by replicating Jo’s motions. The illustrations show the progress of the garden as new plants and animals appear with each turn of the page. In the back of the book, readers learn more about the animals that appear in the illustrations as well a the vegetables that they are growing. The book also includes comprehension questions that have the reader flipping back to find the answer in the book. There are tips for starting a garden, supplies you might need, and additional resources.
— Library Media Connection – Tricia Grady (October 2012)
I’m sure you’ve heard of the old song, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Well, I bet you didn’t know that the old farmer has a granddaughter named Jo! Jo is the star of this book, as well as a second book, Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond. In Jo MacDonald Had a Garden, sing along with Jo and her friends as they dig dirt, plant seeds, sprinkle water, pick vegetables, and more! At the end of the book, little readers can find more information on the plants and animals in Jo’s garden, indoor activities, and how to be a gardener like Jo!
— Susan Heim on Parenting Blog (Chicken Soup for the Soul editor) (April 22, 012)
Yes—Old MacDonald did have a garden! Jo MacDonald, the granddaughter of the old gent in the popular children’s song, introduces kids to garden creatures in my new children’s book Jo MacDonald Had a Garden.
And if he’s an eco-friendly kind of guy, he’s also thinking of the birds and bugs that benefit his vegetable garden and how he might enhance their habitat.
Jo wiggles like an earthworm, flutters like a bird and sings E-I-E-I-O as she helps her grandfather (modeled after my own nature-loving dad). She also shows how to help wildlife through small modifications to a home vegetable or herb garden. For example:
1. Plant a few native plants such as coneflowers to provide nectar for bees and butterflies, seeds for birds and places for beneficial insects to lay eggs.
2. Add a large flat rock on which butterflies can rest.
3. Provide a birdbath.
4. Create a toad home from an old flower pot.
5. Make treats for birds in the winter.
Jo shares these and other related indoor and outdoor activities in the parents’ section in the back of the book. Also, check out Dawn Publication’s downloadable activities.
— National Wildlife Federation Blog (blog.nwf.org) (March 6, 2012)
Jo MacDonald, Old MacDonald’s granddaughter, has her very own garden! In their book Jo MacDonald Had a Garden, Author Mary Quattlebaum and illustrator Laura J. Bryant put a new spin on the familiar song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and provide a playful introduction to an innovative type of gardening. No cows or sheep here: Jo’s garden embraces the wider community of wild and domesticated plants and animals that can live in a garden.
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In this version of the song, Old MacDonald is, well, old. He’s tired and busy with his own farm, but he helps with Jo’s garden, too. It’s clear that Jo is in charge, though, and she’s doing things her way. She plants the familiar lettuce, squash, radishes, and tomatoes, but she also plants native plants, including coneflowers and viburnum, and she welcomes the wild animals that visit her garden, too.
Native plants, for those not already familiar with them, are plants that have lived in a particular place for many thousands of years and are well-integrated into the ecological community. They thrive in the local soil and climate, and they also provide food and shelter for a variety of beautiful insects, birds, and other fascinating creatures. While these plants and animals do not get much attention in the text, the pictures and back matter make it clear that they are as vibrant and vital a part of the garden as the more familiar edible crops Jo grows.
Jo provides food and a lovely habitat for people, too. Jo and her cousin, Mike, harvest vegetables and share a meal made from food they grew while Old MacDonald naps in the shade. Even when Jo and Mike are hard at work digging, planting, and observing the garden, they are clearly having fun. Rain or shine, the garden is depicted as a welcoming place children will want to explore.
The language in Jo MacDonald Had a Garden is simple, repetitious, and familiar; it will appeal equally to kindergarten through second graders. As a read-aloud book in a mixed-age classroom or during family reading time, Jo MacDonald Had a Garden will work well. It will also be a fine addition to a reading unit about school or home gardens and farms.
The back matter provides some information about the various insects and plants shown in the book, including how they are useful in the garden and in the wild. A search for plants and creatures, as well as additional questions provided in the back of the book, encourage children to examine the details of the story.
Although the images in this story provide more detail than the text, both come together as a simple, pleasant book that both girls and boys are likely to enjoy. In a world where many children rarely encounter worms, this book is a good way to show how much fun being outside and getting dirty can be.
— 2nd Grade Reading – Ann Norris (Sept. 14, 2012)
School’s out. Gardens are growing. During the summer you’ll want to inspire your children to stay active both physically and mentally. Reading and gardening both are excellent activities especially when the reading involves garden themes. Multi-award winner, Dawn Publications, of Nevada City, CA specializes in quality children’s books about nature. I have had the pleasure of reading two of their latest publications, Molly’s Organic Farm (ages 4-10) and Jo MacDonald Had a Garden (ages 3-8).
What I loved about these books besides the well-told stories and beautiful illustrations are the curriculum components at the back of each book. These can range from topics of discussion such as crop rotation and beneficial insects to indoor activities and garden tips.
If you go to the Dawn Publications website, you can also download activity ideas relating to the different books. For example, when looking through the pages of All Around Me I See by Laya Steinberg you can find animals, insects and birds hiding in their habitat. In the downloadable activity, Classroom Camouflage, students will discuss how camouflage helps keep animals safe from predators.
See downloadable activities by book here -> https://dawnpub.com/downloadable_activities_book/.
Gardening with your kids and reading with your kids about gardening will make for an enjoyable summer for both you and your kids.
— School Garden Weekly – George Pessin (June 18, 2012)
Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum is a new take on Old MacDonald. Your children will love singing along with this book as you explore how butterflies, bumblebees, and birds help a garden to thrive – and how you can help them too. There is so much fun packed into this book, along with a whole lot of learning. This book is interactive and asks the reader to dig further to learn more! Since my children love helping out with our garden, they loved this book too! In fact, I think they want to be just like Jo MacDonald. And that is a-okay with me!
I think this book would be a perfect addition to your home collection. All children will develop a greater appreciation of healthy food and how it nourishes our bodies when they realize how it grows and where it comes from. Let this book inspire you to plant a few herbs, plants, or a whole garden this Spring!
— Your World Natural – Cara Nitz (February 17, 2012)
Jo MacDonald and her cousin Mike, whose name and relationship are unknown until one reads the addendum, cavort in the sunshine, dig in the dirt, and plant a garden that is enjoyed by a number of wild creatures, all to the tune of the children’s classic melody. Youngsters will want to sing along, even creating and acting out some of their own verses. Sprightly illustrations in appropriately season hues provide a delightful backdrop to the imaginative rhythmic text. An appendix lists the visitors to the garden and the crops grown there with a challenge to find them all. There are suggestions for planting a garden, a list for related indoor activities, and websites that may be of help or interest to those with small green thumbs.
— HRLC Book Evaluation – Mary Ellen Monahan (May 11, 2012)
For the youngest of gardeners, Jo MacDonald Had a Garden is an adaptation of the children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” In this playful version, two young children dig in the dirt, plant a garden and watch it grow. The beautiful watercolor illustrations show the joy and sense of importance the children feel from being so closely connected to nature. After the story, readers will find information about the plants and animals featured in the illustrations, as well as indoor activities to promote gardening year-round. Hopefully these stories of gardening will inspire a little spring planting of your own.
— Topeka Capital-Journal – Elizabeth Dobler (March 31, 2012)
The critters of the forest have their own sights and sounds for those who seek them. Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek is a children’s picture book from Marianne Berkes with art from Jill Dubin, as the pair create a rhythmical exploration of the forest and its critters, sure to entertain any young reader with a love of animals. Over in the Forest is a must for children’s picture book collections, recommended.
— Midwest Book Review – Childrens Bookwatch (June 2012)
Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant is a slightly new twist on the classic song Old MacDonald Had a Farm. In this cute picture book, a young girl named Jo creates her own garden with the help of some friends. The illustrations are adorable and the text is catchy since it can be read to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm.
Booking Son and I both enjoyed this book, even though on the surface, it’s probably a little young for him. (The book is geared towards children three to eight years old.) He had fun reading (and singing), but it wasn’t until the end of the book that he really perked up. On the last page of the book, Jo has recreated her garden after the cold winter months. The book asks the reader to find the seven creatures that helped Jo with her garden as well as all seven of the plants in her garden. And then it asks the reader to go back and find the pages where each item initially appeared. Booking Son loved this challenge!
And then came my favorite part of the book — the educational pages. The last page of the book shows all of the animals and plants with explanations of how each one is important in a garden. There are also some fun ideas for indoor activities and some suggestions for how to be a good young gardener. I thought this book was cute, but the educational aspects of it made it even more impressive!
This book is available in both hardcover and paperback and it’s perfect for home or school. There is even an educator’s guide page on the publisher’s website that suggests some great ideas to enhance your reading experience. For example, there are pdfs for seven activities including how to make a school garden for wildlife and how to examine a speck of garden soil.
Booking Son and I both recommend Jo MacDonald Had a Garden especially as the spring approaches!
— Booking Mama – Julie Peterson (February 11, 2012)
If you’ve read Huyen’s glowing review of Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, my take on a publisher’s review copy of the companion Jo MacDonald Had a Garden will come as no surprise. We really enjoyed this book! In fact, my three-year-old daughter was much more engaged in this than the previous book in the series.
Written by Mary Quattlebaum and illustrated with watercolors by Laura J. Bryant, the book follows the style of the children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” but tells the story of Jo MacDonald’s garden through the four seasons. The rhymes flow naturally and never feel forced as Jo gets her hands dirty preparing soil, planting seeds, caring for the garden, and enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of her and her friend’s labor. Extra details include the birds and insects in the garden going through their own cycles – birds laying eggs, etc. My favorite thing about the illustrations is how Jo and the little boy that is working alongside her seem to be dancing along with the song, like wiggling with worms or flapping their arms as if they were birds.
There is an implication that this is happening on or near Old MacDonald’s farm, such as an illustration featuring a bearded gentleman in overalls walking with a horse in the background but otherwise the only animals featured are those inhabiting the garden. In the comments of my review of All Kinds of Kisses, reader Sara MM mentioned that when she reads books with farm animals to her two year old daughter she explains “throughout the story how the animals live on a sanctuary and what that means (in easy to understand form of course),” which I thought was worth sharing.
The garden setting is a little more identifiable than the pond setting for my daughter as we live in the desert and have always had a garden for her to learn in. Speaking of learning in the garden, there are a few pages of information at the end of the book that make it a useful teaching tool. If you enjoyed Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, you will love this book. If you are wondering whether you need two books following this theme I’ll say we enjoyed seeing what else Jo has been up to. A great reading selection to celebrate spring being just around the corner.
What are you planting this year? We had luck with carrots last year so those will certainly figure into our garden plans. There’s nothing like sharing a small, fresh carrot four ways as a family.
— Vegbooks – Homa Woodrum (February 6, 2012)
With a glow-glow here and a glow-glow there, Jo MacDonald, adults and kids will get grooving, as they sing this remixed favorite. Young readers will also be amazed at what happens within the ecosystem of a garden, as Jo and her friends plant seeds, watch wiggly worms, and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
— Kern County Family Magazine – Tracie Grimes (March 2012)
Old MacDonald had a farm but Jo MacDonald has a garden! That’s right, E-I-E-I-O, Jo MacDonald is growing healthy foods for her family and the creatures on her farm. Little ones will enjoy learning about the process of gardening and even discover a surprise plant! Jo MacDonald Had a Garden is playful, colorful, and educational and lots of fun to read with your child. Best of all, kids love singing the words to the well-known tune of Old MacDonald had a Farm.
Hailey: “Jo MacDonald had a garden and a farm and a pond! She had all of them. She is lucky; I wish I had a farm and a pond. Can we plant a garden again? I want to plan lots of pretty flowers—pink flowers and yellow flowers and blue flowers, all the pretty ones. I would grow broccoli and potatoes and lettuce but not carrots. The bunnies would eat them. Jo plants lots of stuff in her garden. She digs and digs. She puts in the seed. She pats it down. She waters it with a water can. I like to water plants too! They grow. Jo is happy. She eats the stuff from her garden. E-I-E-I-O.”
Mom: The Jo MacDonald series is an enjoyable and fun series for my children and me. It gives them the ability to take something familiar and put it with something new. In this edition, Jo MacDonald discovers her garden and teaches children what gardening is all about. It’s a perfect fit for spring. The illustrations are fun and interactive. The words explain the process and importance of gardening while teaching about animals, seasons and patience. I would recommend Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum to other parents. It’s sure to be enjoyable for children whether they are being read to, learning to read or reading all on their own.
— Kids Reader Views – Hailey Schlarman (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views (3/12) (April 2, 2012)
Jo MacDonald is a great Kindergarten book. There are so many curricular connections that a teacher would be hard-pressed to find a way NOT to use it. The illustrations are beautiful and not too distracting for this audience. This book is a great for introducing gardening to young school children.
— National Gardening Association – Rose Judd Murray (February 2012)
Quattlebaum breathes new life into a familiar song with words that will inspire little gardeners everywhere—whether they have a sprawling backyard or a small city balcony.
— Anne Keisman, Editor, National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” campaign (October 2011)
. . . Another new favorite is Jo MacDonald Had a Garden. Who can resist Old McDonald Had a Farm? For a new take, sing along with young readers while Jo MacDonald makes her garden. E-I-E-I-O. “With a dig-dig here. And a dig-dig there….With a wiggle-wiggle here. And a wiggle-wiggle there.”
This is engaging children’s literature a la gardening, nature, and science. Editor and co-publisher Glenn Hovermann says Dawn Publications is “all about connecting children with nature. We choose manuscripts that will inspire, entertain, educate. A book that will be appreciated in the classroom as well as in the trade.” . . .
— National Gardening Association – Charlotte Kidd (March 22, 2012)
If you had a garden, what would you plant in it? Or if you do have one, what do you plant? First, we all know that “Old MacDonald had a farm.” Then we found out that on this farm his granddaughter Jo MacDonald Saw Pond. Now, Jo plants, tends, and harvests a garden on her grandfather’s farm, with help from her cousin Mike. So Mary Quattlebaum’s cute text, following the rhythm and tune of the well-known song, and Laura J. Bryant’s adorable water-color illustrations which accompany it, will acquaint youngsters with all the elements of a successful garden, including sunshine, soil, worms, seeds, water, birds, and rain, as well as the bountiful results.
So, what did Jo plant in her garden and what will she reap? Many people have found gardening to be a pleasurable activity for a number of reasons, whether they have a big farm garden or a small city garden. It gets one outdoors and provides some good exercise. Furthermore, home grown food is tastier and more nutritious than store-bought produce, and it saves money too. The back pages of the book increase the educational experience of the reader by giving more information about the garden community, sharing some indoor activities that will enable children to enjoy garden-related fun year round, explaining how to be a gardener like Jo, and providing resources for helping young gardeners. There are also additional downloadable activities for this and all other Dawn Publication books at their website.
— Home School Book Review – Wayne Walker (March 5, 2012)
This wonderful book will open a window for kids into the magical and important world of plants.
— Susan Rieff, Executive Director, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (October 2011)
Grab your kids, tune your voices, and get ready for a romp through the garden. Through familiar refrains and fun activities kids learn about veggies, worms, butterflies, and much more. This little book is a happy, colorful, informative way to introduce kids to homegrown nutrition and stewardship.
— William Moss, “Get Out & Grow” Master Gardener, National Gardening Assn. (October 2011)