________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 21. . . .February 1, 2013


Farmer Joe Goes to the City. (Developing Reader Level 2).

Nancy Wilcox Richards. Illustrated by Werner Zimmermann.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1990/2012.
22 pp., pbk., $4.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1376-2.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Gwen Smid.

**** /4




Scholastic Canada has reissued the beloved Farmer Joe series in a developing reader format.

      In the midst of a busy schedule planting corn and pulling weeds, Farmer Joe takes a break to go to the big city to find a birthday present for his wife. The gift has to be her favourite colour red and it has to be very special.

      Sadly, Farmer Joe becomes discouraged by his day of shopping in the big city.

He had whizzed this way and that.

He had zoomed here and there.

He had sped from one store to another.

And he still hadn't found a present for his wife.

      It's a good thing Farmer Joe is accompanied by a menagerie of adorable farm critters including a chicken with aviator goggles, a duo of mischievous groundhogs, and a sympathetic pig. They help him succeed in finding the perfect birthday gift.

      Since Farmer Joe Goes to the City is designed for developing readers, I read it out loud to experience the sound and feel of the words. This story proved fun to read, due to its use of repetition and onomatopoeia. The simple plot will succeed in making young readers wonder what Farmer Joe will get for his wife, and also whether or not she'll like it (spoiler: she does!).


Zimmermann's watercolour illustrations render this book truly memorable because I had gobs of fun studying them. Did you notice why Farmer Joe can't pull out the weeds in his field? Or that Farmer Joe is wearing a bow tie as he makes a well-intentioned breakfast mess for his wife's birthday?

      My only critique is with the book's final page where readers learn what Farmer Joe bought for his wife. The gift, itself, (a red computer) is on the extreme right edge of the page, and, therefore, it isn't the focal point of the illustration. This took away a bit of the oomph from the conclusion of Farmer Joe Goes to the City..

      Regardless of such a small hiccup, my bet is that these detailed illustrations will serve as inspiration for many budding artists and encourage readers to continue turning pages.

Highly Recommended.

Gwen Smid is an author and a high school teacher in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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