Mike Lucas and Daron Parton – Let’s Build a Backyard

Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette, Australia, 2022
Designed by Ingrid Kwong

The second in the ‘Let’s Build a’ series, this is a bright, colourful book extolling the virtues of working outdoors together as parent and child and of the joys of nature.

Barbie spoke to Mike Lucas about Let’s Build a Backyard

Mike Lucas’s jaunty rhymes cover the whole process of creating a beautiful outdoor place for a family to enjoy. Daron Parton’s clever and detailed pictures are full of eye appeal for young children, providing many interesting things for them to find and talk about.

As in the first of these books, the main characters are a dad and a daughter (or it could be a son if you wished to see things that way). They work together harmoniously, the dad teaching the child and the child taking everything very seriously. Problems like leaking irrigation pipes are solved, creatures of all kinds come to watch, there is pleasure in work and pleasure in the rest that follows a job well done.

What a lot of very good messages there are here for readers and listeners! All this is done without any hint of the didactic, and yet the lessons are there. One of the lovely things about this book is that author and illustrator each tells his own story – they are complementary but definitely have lives of their own.

The use of onomatopoeia on each page is also a crowd pleaser in picture books for younger children. The three magic repeated words will soon become known to the listening child and an invitation to join in with the story telling. At the same time, Mike Lucas has not stinted on vocabulary development with his section headings like ‘Install the sprinklers’.

Let’s Build a Backyard is a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience – set in the real world, celebrating nature and happy family relationships and created through a pleasing marriage of illustration and text.  I look forward to the next build by this pair of picture book makers.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy and to Mike for chatting with me about the joy of children’s picture books and this one in particular.