Friday, February 27, 2009

Old MacNoah Had An Ark

Lloyd-Jones, Sally. 2008. Old MacNoah Had An Ark. Illustrated by Jill Newton. Harper Blessings.

Old MacNoah Had An Ark is an interesting twist on the classic song, Old MacDonald Had A Farm. It is always intriguing--to me--to see how various artists--both authors and illustrators--choose to tackle the Bible Story of Noah and the Flood. This is an important story in the Bible--a foundational one. But it is often--if not always--cutesified for children, sometimes in verse. And there's nothing wrong with that particularly--focusing on the "oh, look, here are all the animals. See how cute they are!" rather than the doom and gloom of destruction. I liked the premise of this one. It begins simply (and predictably) with

Old MacNoah built an ark, Ee-i-ee-i-o.
And for that ark he got some wood, Ee-i-ee-i-o.
With a bang! bang! here
And a bang! bang! there,
Here a bang! There a bang!
Everywhere a bang! bang!

Old MacNoah built an ark, Ee-i-ee-i-o.

Readers meet a few of the traditional MacDonald characters: cows, ducks, pigs. Then the rain starts and Noah and the animals are ready for the adventure. Lest you think that those three animals are all that made it aboard, the illustrations show other animals as well throughout the books.

Some of the verses include the Splish Splash of the rain, the Burp! Slurp! of the eating, the Poo Poo of the you know what. (Yes, it goes "with a poo poo here, and a poo poo a poo...there a poo...everywhere a poo poo.) I didn't care for all the verses of the book. But most of them were fine with me. (I didn't care for the Oopsie-Daisy and Yahoo verses.)

One small thing irked me about this one. It's all well and good for Noah to become MacNoah. And the song itself wouldn't have needed to include mentioning Noah's family--his wife, his three sons, his three daughters-in-law--but the illustrations could have shown that Noah wasn't all on his ownsie. I mean, maybe a three year old or a six year old wouldn't have wondered about how Noah all on his own could have repopulated the earth...but one man can't "go forth and multiply the earth." And for Noah's redemption to have meant anything--anything other than a delay of the inevitable, his own death--he'd have needed other humans with him--men and women.

As I said, I don't think this one little thing would keep me from recommending this one. And it doesn't make it a bad retelling by any means. It just isn't quite as complete as it perhaps should be.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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