The Real Farmer in The Dell is a children’s adventure picture book written by Sandra Sutter and illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne. While we all know the nursery rhyme about the farmer in the dell, the real story is quite a bit different than those familiar lyrics. It wasn’t a farmer, and it wasn’t even a dell. The farmer was actually a rancher who lived on, of course, a ranch. The farmer didn’t take a wife, because...the farmer was a woman. She took a husband. So how do we know all these new facts? Because there was a witness to all of the goings-on at that ranch. The mouse was there the whole time, and has decided to go public with the real story.
That very obliging mouse and the author, Sandra Sutter, have done a marvelous job of modernizing the old nursery rhyme in this clever and very entertaining children’s picture book, The Real Farmer in The Dell. While traditionalists may insist on adhering to the original version of the story, I found the mouse’s tale to contain more adventure and excitement, plus it makes a lot more sense -- especially the ending. Sutter’s story will resonate with those kids whose parents and caregivers have made efforts to eliminate gender-assigned roles, and it’s a good introduction to the changing reality of life for kids from more traditional backgrounds. Who says a rancher has to be a man? Or a doctor? Or an astronaut? The possibilities are endless for kids of both genders. This story sets the stage for productive discussions about careers and what kids want to be when they grow up. Artists, Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, bring the mouse’s corrected version to life beautifully. I loved seeing the desert scenery and the rodeo action through their eyes. Their artwork is filled with action and detail, making each panel a joy to study closely. The Real Farmer in The Dell is most highly recommended.