Hack and Whack by Francesca Simon is a delightfully funny book around a theme familiar to all children – avoiding bedtime!
Hack and Whack are a pair of viking children who run amock rather than obey their large, axe wielding Mother, who chases them around the village trying to get them to bed. There is not a particular moral or message within the book, other than that sometimes it’s fun to disobey the grown-ups knowing you’ll be caught in the end. However, I’m always pleased to find a book that promotes both male and female protagonists pushing boundaries and enjoying adventures together on an equal pegging.
The wide-eyed children are brought to life by new illustrator Charlotte Cotterill, who uses a limited palette and sketchy drawings to enhance the wild and chaotic theme throughout the book. Some of the pages have comic book style split scenes which adds to the pace, but also gives an opportunity to teach the order of reading from scene to scene.
I read this to a class of Year One children, who thoroughly enjoyed dwelling on the funny illustrations of flying pigs, flapping chickens and squashed sheep amid the chaos. The repeating rhymes and chorus allow children to join in without any encouragement, creating a spontaneous and fun atmosphere and making it a delight to read aloud. It’s a book that children will reread in the book corner time and time again.
A perfect read aloud for Key Stage One when you’ve got a spare ten minutes and just want to enjoy a book and a giggle together.
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