Let’s Build a Backyard (Mike Lucas, illus by Daron Parton, Lothian)
A companion to Mike Lucas and Daron Parton’s 2021 publication Let’s Build a House, this bouncy book illustrates simple steps to creating a garden—dig, plant, water, protect and enjoy the flora and fauna. A little girl and a man work hard and then enjoy the results, in a cheerful yet not overstimulating series of colourful scenes that feel energetic as well as safe. There are three distinct elements to each page: the fact-style headings for each verse (‘Put up a fence around the edge’), the short rhyming verses themselves, and the varying three-syllable refrain on each spread (‘bang bang bang’, ‘buzz buzz buzz’, ‘drip drip drip’). As the refrains are incorporated into the illustrations on each page rather than inside the box containing the rhyming text, there is a bit of an interruption in the reading rhythm (the headings contribute to this). However, the refrain rhythm itself is so satisfying, children from two or three years up will absolutely love getting into it and chanting along. It’s fun to go on the jolly journey from barren block to a garden you’d like to visit, and it seems like the sort of book children will want to read over again, for its rhythms, its logical and simple plot progression, and, of course, the page about spreading manure—‘poo poo poo’.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, an editor and writer, is a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop.