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The New Neighbours



Sarah McIntyre
David Fickling books
Age 5-7

When pigeon brings news of rats moving into their tower block the bunnies on the top floor are excited. Their big sister is doubtful,  gossip spreads, concerns increase and prejudice is revealed. Vern the sheep is worried about tidiness and cleanliness, the pigs  worry about smelliness. The polar bears say they like to steal food and by the time news reaches the yaks rumours have grown to fever pitch with fears of the whole building falling down. Fortunately concerns are unfounded and Bertram and Natasha, the new neighbours are just lovely.

This is a story which challenges preconceptions and prejudice in a very amusing way; the guilt of the tower block residents is obvious as the new neighbours are shown to be delightful and very friendly. There is lots to talk about in the ideas in the book and the detailed illustrations. Spot the hypocrisy of the pigs claiming self-righteously that rats are messy and enjoy the chaos  of the stampede downstairs to confront the initially unwelcome new arrivals. The storytelling, with a cumulative text as the animals hop, trot and tumble downstairs and the increasingly exaggerated rumours  make this great fun to read aloud and for children to join in with.

[efaccordion id=”04″] [efitems title=”Parents’ comments” text=”Naomi enjoyed sharing this story and particularly liked the humour. Her favourite part was at the end when Jake, one of the rabbits, says he wants to be a rat when he grows up. She enjoyed re reading the parts with the animals tumbling downstairs. She said she would tell the other animals not to worry about their new neighbours because the rats were good. This is a great story to re-enact, we used shoe boxes and soft toys to create a tower block. Sarah McIntyre, the book’s creator, has instructions for drawing the characters on her website and it was fun to have a go at this too.”] [/efaccordion]


Share the story

Reading aloud
Talk about the cover together including the back cover which has an illustration of the tower block.

Read the story aloud pausing when children want to.

Join in
When children become familiar with the story they might like to join in with the repeated words eg RATS or the description of the rats tumbling downstairs.

Talk about the story
Talk about different homes and different neighbours. Does your child live in a tower block or know anyone who does?

Talk about the characters and how they feel about the new neighbours at the beginning and the end of the story.

If you could talk to the characters what would you say to them?

Things to make and do

Make a model or draw a picture
Use some small cardboard boxes, ideally the same size, place them on their sides and on top of each other to make a tower block. Use small animal or human figures for residents. You could make up names for them or use the characters in the story and either retell the story in the book or make up new stories of your own.

Or draw your own picture of a tower block with the animal neighbours.

Visit Sarah McIntyre’s website
See here for activities based on the story including how to draw the bunnies and a cut out tower block

Make a new home card
Design a welcome to your new home card and write a message from some of the other residents from the tower block. Fold a piece of A4 paper or card in two. Draw your picture on the outside with a message inside.

Make a zig zag book
You can find instructions here on how to make a simple zig-zag book – make one about the tower block’s residents.

Find out more

Visit author/ illustrator Sarah McIntyre’s website here

See here for activities based on the story /

 Read another story about the tower block by Sarah McIntyre: Vern and Lettuce

See these books illustrated by Sarah McIntyre and written by Philip Reeve

Pugs of the Frozen North

Oliver and the Seawigs

There’s a shark in the bath


Buy here