deereUntil recently I’ve always lived in big cities or their suburbs. A few years ago, though, our family moved to the country. We don’t live on a farm, but I quickly learned that farm machinery, farm tools, and farm concerns (is the rain going to let up long enough for the wheat harvest?) loom large when you’re living surrounded by farms. I started noticing that very few picture books these days speak to country kids. So I was delighted to see John Deere, That’s Who! 

This picture book biography tells the story of the inventor and blacksmith who invented and produced a better plow and whose name is on many farm vehicles today. Country kids will, I suspect, love learning about the man whose name they see on machinery about them. But the book speaks to city kids as well, with its themes of overcoming adversity and trying different strategies to solve problems.

The title of the book is also a refrain in this easy-to-read text. Maurer keeps the word count low so it’s a quick read.

The art by Tim Zeltner has a two dimensional feel to it, as if it were painted on wood by a self-taught frontier artist. And it actually was painted on plywood! You can see the telltale cracks in the paint in the art.

This is a great read aloud for lazy summer days, with the smell of new-cut hay drifting by.

John Deere, That’s Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Tim Zeltner. Henry Holt: 2017

Children with book around a globe

I participate every Wednesday in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at Kid Lit Frenzy.