Old Manhattan Has Some Farms (disc.)
Susan Lendroth, author
Susan Lendroth grew tomatoes in her backyard when she was a kid. Now she grows herbs on the kitchen windowsill in Southern California. Susan is the author of Calico Dorsey; Maneki Neko; Ocean Wide, Ocean Deep; and Why Explore?
Read more about Susan Lendroth.
Kate Endle, illustrator
Kate Endle was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. Encouraged to pursue her love of art, she attended The Columbus College of Art and Design where she received her Bachelor's degree in Illustration. Her work has appeared in children's books, magazines, greeting cards, and educational material. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
Read more about Kate Endle.
- NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Old MacDonald would be greatly surprised to find that although his cows and pigs and sheep might need a rural setting, cities are just fine for growing lots of healthy crops.
From Manhattan to Atlanta to Chicago and beyond, in cities across the United States and Canada, urban farmers are carving out spaces on rooftops and windowsills, in empty lots, backyards and community gardens. Employing a variety of methods, they are raising vegetables and herbs or keeping bees and making honey. Worms and hydroponics aid in the endeavors of these farmers, and even the White House compost bins play their part. There's a lot of information to absorb, but Lendroth literally makes the facts sing to the tune of the old folk song, with the refrain "E-I-E-I-Grow" following each city's verse. The verses flow easily and follow the song's pattern in aabb rhyme while managaing to include such words as "radicchio" and "arugula" without missing a beat. The visual experience matches the text beautifully. An ethnically diverse cast of adults and children are busily digging, weeding and harvesting a variety of tempting foods in Endle's large-scale double-page spreads. Rendered in gouache, the illustrations are thickly outlined in back and filled with the brightest of eye-popping colors set among rich brown soil and myriad greens.
Little ones will sing along and get their own gardens growing.
Lendroth (Calico Dorsey) commandeers a classic nursery rhyme and moves its agricultural subject matter into the city, allowing readers to literally sing the praises of urban farming efforts in New York City, Atlanta, Toronto, and other locations with an “E-I-E-I-grow!” Working in a vibrant palette of acrylics, Endle (My Woodland Wish) paints active scenes of children and adults planting seedlings on rooftop farms and once-empty lots, stringing up dried herbs, and tending to beehives. Thick black outlines and the characters’ ovoid heads give the scenes an almost coloring-book feel; ringers for Michelle Obama and Bo can be spotted as readers travel to Washington, D.C., to check out compost bins at the White House. Lendroth’s lyrics create a few tongue-twisting moments (“With a heat lamp here,/ hydroponics there—/ arugula, radicchio,/ salad greens are great to grow”), but it’s easy to get into the enthusiastic fun of this adaptation. Resources provided in endnotes underscore the idea that “Anyone can start a farm.” The song is also available for free download, performed by children’s musician Caspar Bossypants [sic].
School Library Journal
The traditional song moves into the 21st century as Lendroth explores various types of urban farming, giving children a broader perspective of modern city gardening. Sites and topics include farming on rooftops, composting, growing worms, and cultivating bee hives. The verses are simple, and the concept is clever, with each line ending with "E-I-E-I Grow." Each verse is introduced with the drawings of iconic cityscapes: Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, New York City, and Washington, DC, specifically, the White House. With the exception of Atlanta, each of the city outlines are recognizable by some famous feature, such as the Empire State Building or the Space Needle. Multiethnic families, with charmingly drawn round-headed children, demonstrate the varieties of the gardening projects. The illustrations are brightly colored with heavy black outlines. More detailed information about these approaches to urban gardening appear at the end in a section entitled "Green Matters." The cover includes a link to download the song, sung by Caspar Babypants. Deborah Hodge's Watch Me Grow!: A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City (Kids Can, 2011) is similar but illustrated with photos. Old Manhattan will make a great addition to most collections and should encourage children to create verses for their own communities.
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Informational. Grade 1. Standards 1-8 and 10.
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Informational. Grade 2. Standards 1, 3-8, and 10.