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Albert Talbot Master of Disguise

Ben Manley, illus. Aurélie Guillerey
Two Hoots
Age 3-7 years

Albert Talbot has a very vivid imagination. He spends his days imagining he is a dangerous villain or a brave adventurer. His journey to school becomes an exciting expedition, he is not Albert Talbot he is a fearless mountaineer! During swimming lessons, he is a brave undersea explorer and when showing his robot model, he is a famous inventor. But at bedtime Albert decides he prefers to  be himself being tucked in cosily by his mum.This is a book which will encourage lots of imaginative play, dressing up and conversation, turning everyday events into mini adventures.

NB Choose the ideas most suitable for your child from our suggestions. The play ideas are suitable for all, those involving writing are likely to be most appropriate for children 5+.

Watch the story read aloud 



Share the story
Before you begin reading the story look at the cover image together and talk about what you see and what the title might mean.

Talk about the story

  • Look for clues to Albert’s choice of disguises in his bedroom.

  • There are lots of details to spot in the other illustrations too, for example see if you can spot where Albert is hiding in the Wild West image.

  • Talk about any questions children have – for example about the vocabulary which is very sophisticated. You could talk about unfamiliar words such as ‘notorious’, ‘desperado’ or ‘incognito’ and what they might mean.

  • Talk about which of Albert’s disguises your child would choose. Perhaps they would prefer something else. Share ideas – this might be more fun if you join in with your own ideas too.

  • Look at the page where Albert seems reluctant to jump into the swimming pool. Is he feeling nervous? Talk about times your child might have felt shy or not confident to do something.

  • Did they manage to do it anyway, what did they do? Again you could add you own examples too.

Things to make and do

Make everyday activities an adventure
Play ‘I’m not Albert Talbot’ during everyday activities such as going to school or to the park. Make up names and imagine together you are in amazing places instead doing incredible things.

Dress up in disguise
Gather together a dressing up box. This does not need to be specially bought outfits. Just see what you can gather at home for example different types of hats, shoes, bags, dresses, trousers and jackets. If you can include lengths of fabric, belts, ribbons and gloves. Perhaps you could dress as well so that you are both a different character. Talk about what adventures your characters could have together. Make the room into an adventure landscape, using cushions, cardboard boxes, rearranged furniture etc. and let the adventures begin.

Be an inventor and design a robot
Try designing a robot on paper and then making it from junk materials. If you can include mechanical odds and ends such as washers or cogs from an old clock this would be even better. What special features will the robot have? What will it be able to do? What will your child call it?

Make a wanted poster for Anselm Facklejacket Diamond thief
Give your child paper and pens or crayons so that they can make a wanted poster for Anselm Facklejacket Diamond thief like the one in the book for Clate Stouderoufen Notorious Desperado. Children can draw a picture of the famous criminal and write what he is wanted for. Remind them to include a reward !

Draw a map for one of Rusti Buffels’ expeditions
Look at the map illustration in the book, your child might like to make an adventure story map like this for another imaginary adventure for Rusti Buffels or for an imaginary adventure of their own. They just need a large piece of paper, pens, crayons or coloured pencils.

Make an amazing scene from the story
You could build an icy mountain or shattered glacier out of ice cubes in a large tray. Add play people and mountain animals and make mini sleighs using plastic lids so that the play people can slide down the mountain. Make a base camp out of bricks or Lego.

This would be a good opportunity to talk about the ice and guess how long it will take to melt. Children might be interested to try more experiments putting an ice cube in different places and seeing which one melts first (eg in the fridge, freezer, by the window, or outside in the sunshine.

Fill a large bowl, empty sand tray or the sink with water. Add underwater toys, fish, submarines, boats and divers to create an under the sea adventure. Add blue or green food colouring. Invent undersea adventures. This could lead to some scientific investigation too, guessing which objects will float or sink.

Disguise a paper doll or a ‘mini me’
Make a cardboard cut-out person and using scraps of colourful paper help your child make different outfits to dress the figure. You can download printable dolls and clothes and then colour them in imaginatively if you would prefer. Alternative you could print and cut out a full-length photo of your child, stick it onto card and cut it out and colouring paper outfits for the disguises. Encourage your child to make up amazing names for their characters and think about what adventures they might have.

Find out more

Find out more about author Ben Manley | Home

Read other books he has written titles include:

Vampire Peter with Hannah Peck

The Misadventures of Frederick with Emma Chichester Clark

Find out about illustrator Aurélie Guillerey, illustratrice (

Find out about famous mountaineers in books and on the internet 

Find out about submarines in books and on the internet
Find out why submarines float and go under water. Make your own submarine