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The Weed

Quentin Blake
Tate Publishing
Age 3-7 years

When the Meadowsweet family find themselves at the bottom of a deep crack in the earth, they have to depend on Octavia, their talkative mynah bird, and a very unusual seed to rescue them and help them climb back into the world.

With echoes of the beanstalk, this joyfully illustrated fable for our times shows human reliance on the natural world and each other for survival, growth and happiness.


Share the story

Read aloud

Read the story aloud, taking time to talk together about the pictures as you do. Encourage children to imagine what might happen next and turn the page to see if their predictions were right. Talking about the book deepens children’s enjoyment and understanding of the story.

Join in
Read the story again, this time leaving spaces for children to join in.

Talk about the story

  • Read aloud, pausing to talk about the illustrations, and consider how the family could escape. Before turning the page, predict what might happen next.

  • How do the Meadowsweet family feel at the beginning of the book and how do they feel at the end of the story? What has made a difference?

  • Talk about the different characters in the story, your favourite and why.

  • What is the story is about? What do the Meadowsweet family discover is important by the end of the book? 

Things to make and do

Make a vertical zig zag book
Using A4 paper folded and cut in half lengthwise, stick them together (at the back) to  make a long strip of paper. Fold in half and half again to make a vertical zig-zag book of squares. Starting with the bottom square, draw the beginning of the story with the seed and draw the growing weed as you open the folded book. In the top square, draw the family climbing to the top and out of the crack. When you hold the book open you’ll see one very tall weed!

What is a weed?

Find out more here and here

Go on a weed hunt
Use a piece of thin card or paper, and fold it to make a card and add a strip of double sided tape across the middle (or sellotape with the sticky side on the outside). Then go into a local park, green space or your garden and collect tiny leaf/flower/seed samples of 3 or 4 weeds (only weeds!). When you get home, see if children can identify and label them. Talk about what they notice is the same and different.

Make a tall weed
Use kitchen roll tubes to build a tall weed. Decorate with cut-out green paper leaves and flowers, sticking them on the side with a gluestick or sellotape.

Grow a plant from seed

Choose fast-growing seeds to grow in a small yoghurt pot or plastic cup with some soil or compost, or on a wet paper towel. You could try nasturtium, grass, sunflower, pumpkin, beans or lettuce seeds.

You can watch this interactive video to help or this more practical videos and instructions.

Find out more

Find out more about Quentin Blake 

Find out about drawing with Quentin Blake 


Read more books by Quentin Blake 

Titles include:

Mr Magnolia


The Dancing Frog