I would like to preface this post by pointing out that I find nothing less interesting than a farm. Dirt, smells, poop, the threat of back-breaking labor, all send me scurrying toward the safety of the nearest climate-controlled building, even if that happens to be an airport. Or a jail. Which makes it all the more unlikely and impressive that Farm, a visual compendium of all things agricultural published by Eyewitness Books, managed to winnow its way into my heart.
Unsurprisingly, Farm came into my home by accident (see aforementioned dislike of farms); my babysitter found it lying on a stoop. I wasn’t very keen on the prospect of introducing the wonders of agriculture to my two-year-old, especially since the text was a few years above her pay grade, but Farm took over our reading routine faster than you can say “Holstein cow.”
My daughter was captivated straight away by the luminous photographs of animals—from the muppet-like Wesleydale ram to the regal Brahma hen—happy to simply turn pages and repeat what any parent will recognize as the universal 2-year-old mantra: “What’s that?” But grown-up readers will be seduced by Farm’s well-organized and shockingly interesting content. It makes forays far beyond the farm, into the realms of art history, antiquities, and science. I’m embarrassed to admit that prior to picking up this book, I thought of Jethro Tull merely as a rock band distressingly reliant on the flute, but I’ve since learned that he’s an 18th-century agriculturalist responsible for inventing the corn drill. (What on Earth is a “corn drill” and why should you care? Farm will teach you that, too!)
The Los Angeles Review describes the Eyewitness book series—which covers subjects as diverse as Medieval life and flying machines—as a “mini-museum between the covers of a book,” and I can’t think of a better description. Eyewitness is dragging the stodgy encyclopedia into the twenty-first century. A few minutes with one of these books, and the idea of clicking one’s way through Wikipedia in search of similar facts seems monumentally dreary. We’ve already moved on, past the farm and onto Vikings and mummies. Or at least I have. My two-year old is still pointing and shouting, “What’s that?”
What’s your favorite adult-friendly kids’ book?