Just Imagine

Ootch Cootch

Authored by Malachy Doyle
Illustrated by Hannah Doyle
Published by Graffeg Limited

A delightful allegorical story for young children, Ootch Cootch tells the tale of a little skunk named Beeny who gets lost at the train station, but nobody can understand what he’s saying. Bel, a friendly badger, steps forward to help translate as she has been learning a little Skunk at school.

Bel’s initial trepidation, and the reaction of some of the other animals at the station, provide the perfect opportunity to discuss prejudice with young children. By the end of the book, every character is rooting for Beeny; the final illustration of the badger and skunk families hugging (‘ootch cootch’ is Skunk for ‘hug’) sums up the importance of recognising similarities as well as celebrating differences. Children will also enjoy trying to figure out the Skunk language – by the end of the book, you almost feel fluent!

The illustrations, by the author Malachy Doyle’s daughter Hannah, are bright, engaging and reminiscent of Axel Scheffler. This book would be great for children from Foundation Stage up to Year Two, either as a class read or as part of a wider topic on languages or kindness.