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Prather’s Pick: A rusty but trusty tractor

Diane Prather

This year, there has been a lot of flooding in our country, and that’s what I thought about when I found “Farmer John’s Tractor,” a children’s picture book.

The book was written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Robyn Belton. Both author and illustrator live in New Zealand (or at least they did when the book was published in 2012). I think New Zealand is the setting for the book, too, because in the story, the rain starts in the winter.

Farmer John lives on a sheep farm where the reader also finds other cute animals — such as a mama pig and her five piglets, some white chickens, an adorable goat and a cute white dog. The watercolor illustrations are wonderful.

Farmer John also has a tractor. It’s locked up in a shed where, among other things, the farmer stores his tools. The chickens enjoy the shed, too, where they can sleep on the tractor seat.

The tractor is old. That’s why it is locked in the shed. The following sentence is repeated throughout the story, which is told all in rhyme.

“Farmer John’s tractor lies locked in the shed, rusty yet trusty and orangey red.”

In winter, the rain starts, and it rains and rains. Stand-

ing water surrounds the shed and goat’s house, but things are getting worse. In fact, there’s a flood. Farmer John, all dressed in rain gear, stands on top of a hill where he can see the valley below, including a road. His dog and sheep also watch as the water gets higher. It’s even close to the top of a fence in places.

Then, a yellow car gets stuck on the road. There’s a family — father, mother, two little girls and a dog — in the car. Father shouts that they’re stranded.

Help is on the way, however. A jeep is coming toward them. By now, the little girls are standing on a big rock. They wave to the jeep driver. Alas, the driver doesn’t see a rock hidden in the water, and the jeep rolls on its side. Now, there are two vehicles stuck in the water.

Then, a tow truck comes along. It will rescue them for sure, but the driver doesn’t realize how deep the mud is next to the water. The rear wheels just spin, and he can’t pull the car out.

By now, the little girls are on top of the car, and the water is still rising. They’re scared. But a fire engine is coming. You wouldn’t think a fire truck would get stopped, but there has been a mud slide, and rocks block the way. Seven crew members are helpless.

Just then, Farmer John can be seen at the shed. He has a key and is opening the padlock. Can an old rusty tractor help?

Kids love tractors, and I guarantee they will enjoy this book. After reading the book to children, adults might talk with kids about floods, what causes them and safety measures to follow when there is high water. I think this is a great book.

“Farmer John’s Tractor” is published by Candlewick Press (2012). The hardcover book costs $15.99. You also can find the book in the children’s room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.


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