I often like to choose a theme when reading to the children, as it’s fun to link similar books together and see how they differ, too. So, this week, I decided that our theme would be ‘eating’ but all the books I chose had a strange twist.
The first book in my collection was The Cat Wants Custard, by P Crumble (isn’t that a fantastic name for a book featuring custard?!) and Lucinda Gifford, published by Scholastic.
In this hilarious book, the finicky feline of the title decides roast beef and other delights won’t cut it – he wants custard, and he wants it NOW. The problem is, this is beyond human comprehension (understandably) and despite his best efforts to tell his dim-witted humans of his particular fancy, they just don’t get it. The cat tries everything – showing them a mustard bottle (what rhymes with mustard?), he spells it, he spells it out with his body (he must be a yoga enthusiast) but still he’s not granted his wish.
In the end, the grumpy cat sits and stares at the fridge in the mistaken belief that it will magically open. I am sure many of us have had that wish, and my cat Archie no doubt would give it a go if he thought it worked. Eventually the cat gets in, but does he enjoy his much-longed-for food?
The children laughed at the cat and its antics. He’s written and drawn with much character and his superciliousness leaps off the page. I’ve read this book aloud a few times and, every time, it receives a positive reception, as well as an array of hands shooting up to tell me what their cats eat: fish, biscuits, milk, poo. Hmmm. I hope there won’t be attempts to feed the local felines custard tonight though…
The second book concerns a mythical beast’s love of pasta: Spaghetti with the Yeti, by Adam and Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish, published by Egmont.
Adventurous George decides to set off in search of a yeti and takes with him … a tin of spaghetti. Does he choose this foodstuff because it rhymes? Nope. It turns out that, despite various other monsters’ opinions and advice, yetis really do like spaghetti (or at least this one does).
This picture book races along at a pleasant pace through its rhymes and the children loved guessing the next word – thinking it would be ‘yeti’ but being stumped with alternative female names of monsters including ‘Betty’, ‘Hetty’ and ‘Netty’. Each of these gives George something else to feed the yeti with, including bones, a goat and a crab … making George worried that his tin of spaghetti would be rejected. When I asked who liked spaghetti, virtually every hand went up and I was regaled with tales of last night’s supper (spaghetti with tomato, spaghetti with ham, etc). I think my husband will have to come in as he hates eating spaghetti as he can’t twirl it on his fork – many of the children said they could and would happily show him…
A fun book to share with monster enthusiasts, poetry lovers and anybody who likes a giggle at hairy creatures with rollers.
In the third book, we’re starting to get a little eccentric in terms of who is doing the eating. In This Book Just Ate My Dog, by Richard Byrney, published by Oxford University Press, it is the book itself that has an appetite.
Little Bella (and she is little – smaller than her huge dog) is walking her dog along the pages of this book when, all of a sudden, the animal disappears, seemingly into the middle. We all looked for him but couldn’t find him, even when we shook the book and turned it upside down. A boy called Ben comes along and offers to help but he soon disappears, leaving only his yellow umbrella. The dog warden, police and fire brigade zoom up to investigate but they’re also swallowed into a large, bookish, black hole. In the end, long-suffering Bella decides to take matters into her own hands and goes in search. Will she get out again?
As I shook the book and peered at the pages and binding, the children also checked theirs in case the various missing animals, people and vehicles had somehow ended up there. There were chuckles at the thought of a naughty book swallowing up its contents and the red lead coming out of the middle of the spine was a great touch to suggest that the dog, and others, were trapped within. This is a great way to be interactive with a book and use the children’s imagination while reading.
The last book in this feature is perhaps the oddest of all, and comes with a bit of a warning in case you have impressionable children! It is Oliver Jeffers’ fabulous The Incredible Book Eating Boy, published by Harper Collins.
People talk metaphorically about a thirst for knowledge or a hunger or appetite for something but to literally eat a book? That’s quite impressive. Yet that is exactly what Henry does – starting at first with words, then moving on to sentences, pages and then entire books. When he masters that art, he moves on to eating several books at a time and finds, to his delight, that he’s absorbing all the knowledge from the books. His general knowledge is amazing and he’s cleverer than his teachers from all his fact … eating.
As with all things, though, moderation is key. Because soon this rather restricted (and one would think highly indigestible) diet, starts confusing Henry. Facts come out back to front and he realises that he’s probably gone over the top with his taste for paper.
This idea is so good and eccentric and anarchic. The children loved hearing about this boy who’s a bit of a vandal really and, unfortunately, started gnawing on their library books even when we got to the end where Henry changes his ways. So have fun when reading this but be aware that it comes with a gentle health warning …