Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Review is In :: Big Tractors with Casey & Friends by Holly Dufek

When my boys were younger, squeals would erupt from the backseat of our car as we passed by working farms. The machinery on site would captivate them, and they would diligently watch tractors or combines march up and down a field. I’ve often wondered if it was the sheer size of these machines, their bright colors, or even their noise that caught their attention. I think all little children are at one time drawn to these mechanical beasts.

If you’ve got a son or daughter eager to learn more about farm implements, then Big Tractors with Casey& Friends by Holly Dufek, a seasoned educator and national curriculum writer, and illustrated by Pixar “Cars” artist Paul E. Nunn may be right up their ally. Published by Octane Press, Casey & Friends is a newly created series of books designed to not only entertain, but also educate children on how tractors, combines, and other farm equipment operate. By using photographs of CASE IH equipment in real farming situations with cartoon characters, children make the connection of from farm to table.

Readers follow Casey the farmer, Tillus the worm, Big Red the Tractor, and a whole cast of cartoon equipment characters who teach important life lessons gleaned from the farm, like thinking ahead and working as a team. Each title is licensed by CASE IH and highlights a different aspect of farm equipment and technology with educational sidebars, picture glossaries, and fun farming facts for added learning possibilities.

As a parent, I find this a great resource for all the burning questions regarding farms and tractors I received from my little ones! The story is well conceived and reminds me of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, but for farming. This style of writing is a wonderful resource for any household, especially if your children have an interest in large machinery.

One of my favorite parts in Big Tractors is the Red Tractor Timeline and the farming flashback section. Many children do not know how farming occurred before 1910 and to understand how tractors evolved is quite an interesting story. If you happen to live in the East Texas area, I highly encourage you to visit Parrott Park & Agricultural Museum in Lindale, Texas, where you can see the timeline of tractors in person.
Another feature of the Casey & Friends series is that the educational material is not “dumbed down” for children. While written with young children in mind, the books still effectively and briefly explain complex ideas to children, such as hydraulics, the advanced farming system (AFS), and power takeoff.

Currently, there are 4 books in the Casey & Friends series: A Year on the Farm (released in January 2015), Big Tractors (released in April 2015), Combines (scheduled to be released in June 2015), and Planters & Cultivators (scheduled to be released in September 2015). They books are geared for children ages 4-8 and are printed in the USA.
Be sure to visit this link for a chance to win your very own copy of Big Tractors and a CASE IH tractor toy.

Holly Dufek has spent nearly 15 years writing and working with educational curriculum for publishers such as Holt McDougal, National Geographic Education and Riverside Publishing. She holds a master’s degree in Education and lived in Kenosha, WI, with her husband, Matt, and their three children.

Paul E. Nunn is a full range artist who has worked for Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street. He lives in Racine, WI, with his wife, Amy, and their two sons.
 {Please note, I was provided a copy of this novel to review by PR by the Book and Octane Press.}

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