It’s World Mental Health Day, so it’s very appropriate that my Short Read of the Week is Read the Book, Lemmings!, by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora because it has made me and the children laugh so much that I think we have discovered a new favourite in the school library.
What it’s about:
We all know that lemmings don’t jump off cliffs (don’t we?) but has anyone ever told the lemmings? It appears not, as Foxy discovers, because every time he says the word ‘jump’, three silly lemmings catapult themselves off the S.S. Cliff. Will they ever learn that it’s OK to stay on dry land?
The cover first attracted me to this book. I loved the bold colours and the cute but mischievous expressions on the lemmings’ faces. This bright, fun and inviting style continues throughout the book – the pictures make you want to jump into the story as much as the lemmings are keen to leap off the ship (which is actually a whale).
But the words – oh how funny they are. The ever-suffering Foxy is reading the book Everything About Lemmings. When he mentions, in passing, that they don’t jump off cliffs, the lemmings happily prove him wrong, and then he has to rescue them. The gag continues, with Captain PB getting involved, accidentally putting his foot in it when he says that it’s a good thing Foxy never said the word ‘jump’. Three times the cheeky trio hurl themselves into the water and three times they need rescuing, until Foxy discovers that lemmings are, in fact, illiterate and need to be taught to read.
At first the children listened with interested bemusement as I gave them some facts about lemmings to start the lesson. They all agreed that lemmings are sweet but I had to let them know they can actually be quite fierce when threatened. Here’s one for you:
When we moved into the book, and discovered that Foxy decides to name the lemmings ‘Jumper’ (for the first one who jumps), ‘Me Too’ (for the second one), and ‘Ditto’ (for the third), the children gurgled in laughter. I paused for effect each time I read aloud the word ‘jump’ and by the second time, the children had cottoned on to what was going to happen and hooted with laughter. The fact the lemmings shout ‘Geronimo!’ as they plummet into the water was also a cause for hysterics and the children joined in. It reminded me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon I’d watched, in which Yosemite Sam keeps trying to catch Bugs on top of a platform and goes hurtling down (accompanied by a whistling noise) into a paddling pool of water. So I added the whistling noise for effect.
All the groups I read this book to hooted with laughter and begged for me to read it again. Our library lunchtime activity this week has been colouring in and drawing lemmings for a display, which I will share with you soon. In the meantime, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s one of the most original and hilarious picture books I’ve read for a while, and I can’t see myself tiring of it any time soon.
Can they be any cuter?
Read the Book, Lemmings! is published by Andersen Press.