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By Mike WardEditor, Child Education Plus

and Sarah WoodsAssistant Editor, Child Education Plus

From hyperactive roosters to egg-laying cows, children will love these fun farmyard reads

The cow that laid an egg

The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill and Russell Ayto (HarperCollins Children’s Books, ISBN 9780007179688)

It’s like that old saying goes: What came first, the chicken, the egg – or the cow? Marge is a rather un-extraordinary cow. All the other cows seem to have a special skill, riding bikes or performing acrobatics, so it’s understandable that she feels depressed that she can’t. But a group of plotting poultry hatch a cunning plan to make Marge a bit different. The next morning the farm wakes up to discover Marge has laid an egg! Such astonishing news quickly makes the headlines of the Moos of the World but soon arouses suspicion from the rest of the herd – who are determined to crack the case.

The paper cut-out style illustrations are fun and vibrant and match this wacky story so well. On the surface this is an a-moo-sing (sorry, couldn’t resist) story about a cow with an identity crisis, but the unlikely storyline makes it a great starting point for sharing ideas about being different and bullying. (SW)

All Pigs are Beautiful

All Pigs Are Beautiful by Dick King-Smith and Anita Jeram (Walker Books, ISBN 9781406311969)

Do you know your Saddleback from your Gloucester Old Spot? Well you will do by the end of this book (and the beginning for that matter!) as the title pages display a variety of pig breeds. The tone is set from the very start of this book, combining the best elements of a picture book with the information children are so eager for in reference books.

Written from the perspective of Dick King-Smith, the sincere affection that he feels for these clever creatures is evident as he brilliantly portrays their endearing qualities and individual personalities – especially for his favourite pig, Monty.

Different fonts in the book indicate the factual information, but in a wavy read-me style, which ensures the mix of facts and story is seamless. This touching and informative book and CD set will make a worthy addition to any classroom bookcase. (SW)

I love the farm

I Love the Farm by Roger Priddy (Priddy Books, ISBN 9781849156110)

Make sure you’re wearing sunglasses when you turn the pages of this chunky board book, as each page is splattered with bright colours and crazy text – it’s an assault on the senses, but a pleasant one! Fun facts and questions are coupled with top-quality images that really draw you into the pages; children will love the rhyming language (‘Pink piglets are so very sweet, they grow because they eat and eat’), and clever use of font size and colour make the words as appealing as the pictures.

It may be a board book, which will inevitably put off older children, but this title is crammed full of information, from animals and machinery to where we get our food. The crazy and colourful ‘collage style’ layout could also inspire some fun cutting-and-pasting activities in the classroom. An enjoyable, durable title that will get plenty of use. (MW)

Cock-a-doodle boo!

Cock-a-doodle Boo! by Sally Hopgood and Marina Le Ray (Tide Mill Press, ISBN 9781846665585)

You can’t blame Ronnie the Rooster for loving his job – after all, waking up everyone with his characteristic call is what he does best. However, I’m less sure the other animals on Sleepydale Farm appreciate his skills, as they clearly aren’t of the ‘morning’ variety. Too bad for them then, as the farmer needs his breakfast and it’s up to Ronnie to get his slumbering chums into action!

What makes this book special is its pop-up characters. When each animal receives their wake-up call they literally leap off the page in surprise. I particularly liked the image of the hen, who is so shocked that she pops out an egg!

This is a great book to read aloud to a class as the children will delight in shouting the ‘cock-a-doodle-boos!’ as loudly as they can! (Cotton wool for the ears comes highly recommended.) The only downside is that you’ll find yourself wishing there were more characters for Ronnie to wake up. Hmm… I feel a follow-up activity coming on. (MW)

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