Sunday, October 12, 2014

Old Manhattan Has Some Farms

Old Manhattan Has Some Farms
written by Susan Lendroth; illustrated by Kate Endle
2014 (Charlesbridge Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

I'm not a very good singer. I'm not awful, but I'm not great either. But I don't care. I enjoy singing a song and my students will sing right with me. This year we've sung songs about continents and insects and had a good time. Now I have another song to add to our repertoire. Old Manhattan Has Some Farms is a cheery and clever take on Old MacDonald that features gardens grown in urban areas. Look at these lyrics for Chicago:


Old Chicago has some roofs,
E-I-E-I-Grow!
And on those roofs are beds of herbs,
E-I-E-I-Grow!
With some basil here and some mint sprigs there-
Pick some chives, add some dill, string them by our windowsill. 
Old Chicago has some roofs,
E-I-E-I-Grow!

How much fun will it be to sing this song and check out the vocabulary! There's some sneaky teaching going on here. Several North American cities (Atlanta, New York City, Seattle, Toronto) are highlighted with the focus on different ways you can garden in an urban setting. For example, in Seattle a salad is created with the use of a heat lamp and hydroponics. Beehives, within site of the CN Tower in Toronto, yield delicious honey for spreading on bread. The penultimate setting is the White House where three compost bins deliver rich soil for their gardens. The last section encourages readers to create their own garden. 

The illustrations in this book will charm your socks and shoes off. Bright colors and cityscapes make for fun viewing. The back matter gives more information about each of the farming techniques in the book and how to adapt the song to your city's name. That's a great lesson waiting to happen. Warm up your singing voice and your gardening gloves and get ready to plant!


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