The sixth book in Pamela Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series, as you would expect, follows the same format as the previous books. Three stories in under 100 pages with wonderful two tone illustrations by Becka Moor (I adore the children’s expressions on their faces).
The titular story sees a cat find its way into the school, much to the fascination of the children, but the chagrin of the teacher. Convinced it’s trying to communicate, the children come to the conclusion the cat is warning them of the fish in the cafeteria. Dangerous or not, there’s something dodgy about it – even Mr Harris has his doubts.
The Puddle Crisp shows what can happen if you eat crisps dropped in a puddle. Puddle-pox is no joke for class 2R, and the Year 6s think it’s hilarious, until they don’t.
In the final tale, Imaginary Margaret, the class are on a trip to a museum. No one can sit next to Joel Jack as that’s Margaret’s seat. The children think this is odd because Margaret doesn’t exist. Or does she? When strange things happen, they start to think that maybe she does.
First and foremost, these stories are a riot of fun and silliness. Set in a Year 2 class, Butchart clearly understands how a child’s mind works. Shrewd observations like the class cheering when they’re allowed to visit the gift shop are lovely touches.
Each story starts with an instant hook, my favourite is the opening page of The Puddle Crisp. Next is the problem or strange incident. Then the children come to a conclusion, using logic only a child can. The cat is trying to warn them the fish is dangerous; eating a puddle crisp will give you a disease; imaginary friends really exist. The final elements clear up the children’s misconception, but also satisfyingly leaves us with a twist or gag.
I’m not highlighting the formula to be critical, on the contrary! All stories follow a structure, it’s the very nature of storytelling. Children will know what to expect with each story. This is important for developing inference skills, language, and of course, a child’s own writing.
They’re perfect for any KS1 classroom and ideal for important storytime sessions with the next story as different as the last They’re a crowd pleaser for all children and many will have their own favourites they’ll want to reread again and again.
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