Reviews /

Old Macdonald Had a Phone

Authored by Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Tony Ross
Published by Andersen Press

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Old Macdonald Had a Phone is great fun – from the marvellously madcap and familiar illustration style of Tony Ross to the lyrical reimagining of the traditional rhyme by Jeanne Willis. The front cover of the book includes a quote saying A great book to introduce Internet Safety!

Old Macdonald is a traditional farmer, not entirely up to date or familiar with the smartphone, unlike most of his young readers, I imagine. He buys one but drops it in the pond. Then in error, he orders 100 phones, not just the one he needed. This leads to all of the animals on the farm having a smart mobile phone. The advent of this means that they were all spending so much time on their phones that none of the usual jobs are happening. The rooster stops crowing, the sheepdog stops looking after the sheep, and the cow is not producing any milk. Disaster!

Eventually, Old Macdonald removes all the phones. This makes everyone unhappy. Enter Young Macdonald, who explains how, when used correctly and responsibly, smartphones can be great. Life on the farm reverts to normality, supported by the sensible and fun use of mobile phones. The cow produces milk, eggs are laid again, and all is well.

All the creatures on the farm

Are happy as can be,

They talk to one another

And they do not text at tea.

It is a fun singalong cautionary tale that I am sure will be loved by many youngsters and their parents/carers. Illustrated in an amusing comic-style that will be sure to bring a smile to everyone who reads it.


Jeanne Willis talks to Nikki Gamble about her books