A Visit to City Farm
Verna Wilkins and Karin Littlewood
This is the first book from a new publisher whose aim is to produce ‘books with engaging, enjoyable and exciting stories that celebrate our interconnected and culturally-diverse world, putting all children in the picture’ and this story of a school visit certainly does just that.
From the list of children’s names in the front of the book, it seems that the role of Chalkhill Primary School (the book’s co-publishers) is similar to that of the schools I’d always taught in before moving out of London a few years ago. The lack of this rich diversity was one of the huge culture shocks I’ve had to cope with since, and that diversity is something I still miss enormously: this book is, in part a celebration of that richness.
The story tells of a class visit to a city farm. Now I know from experience that children absolutely delight in being featured in their own books – albeit school published ones (it’s an empowering part of seeing themselves as writers) – so I can imagine how thrilled those Chalkhill Primary children must have been to become characters (more accurately almost recognisable versions of themselves) in , and co-writers of, a real book.
We join Rainbow Class as they prepare for the off, with their teacher, Miss Jama checking they know the safety code, watch the group as they walk to the station, travel on the tube and finally, arrive at City Farm.
Of course, the highlight of the visit is seeing all the different animals …
maybe not all the animals for all the children though …
Verna Wilkins’ prose (written in collaboration with Y5 pupils) and the children’s rhyming descriptions of the animals are seamlessly woven together into a single narrative that also gives voice to individual children’s thoughts as they move around the farm. And, there’s so much to look at, enjoy and talk about in Karin Littlewood’s lovely pen, crayon and watercolour illustrations.
All in all this is a wonderful celebration of our interconnectedness and I look forward to seeing more from Firetree books.