To say I was delighted to review this children’s book would be an understatement. I am a long-time fan of the Topp Twins, first hearing them sing as teenagers in Cathedral Square in Christchurch. We loved hearing these incredibly infectious and funny girls.
Jules and Lynda Topp have been entertaining the country with their original songs – country music; yodelling and spoon-playing – for a lot of years now with their television shows and their own brand of humour. They have won many awards and accolades.
Lynda and Jools see their growing list of children’s book titles as a fun way to encourage kids to enjoy books. This is their fourth collaboration with Jenny Cooper. Previous titles include There’s a Hole in my Bucket, Do your Ears hang Low? and She’ll be coming ’round the mountain.
The rather gorgeous illustration of a hound dog holding a guitar and singing “Take your partner by the hand” makes you want to get up and start square dancing. “The farmer, in the dell, the farmer in the dell, heigh-ho, the merry-o, the farmer in the dell.” Having the CD to accompany the book is brilliant, with Jools and Lynda’s humour coming through. The small child in our family began singing along and doing her own version of what she thought square dancing should look like. To say that my husband and I were falling about the floor laughing would be rather an understatement. “Grandma, stop clapping” was my small person’s plea!
The illustrations by Jenny Cooper are incredible – words fail me to describe just how wonderful they really are. To include a cat, dog and even a cow at one stage in the square dancing is nothing short of genius. Thank you Lynda, Jools and Jenny for one very entertaining book.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
The Farmer in the Dell (+ CD)
Sung by The Topp Twins, illustrations by Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ