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Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed

uncle cobbMichael Rosen, Neal Layton (illus)

Age 7-9

Malcolm is different, he likes his beans under his toast and he thinks a lot.  He worries about how to answer questions; worksheets at school with only one answer perplex him. At home his Uncle Gobb is getting increasingly frustrated with Malcolm’s inability or refusal to answer simple general knowledge questions and threatens to put him in the ominous DREAD SHED if he doesn’t buck his ideas up.

This is an amusing read with lots of commentary from the narrator. Children will enjoy the playful approach to language and delight in words which are savoured  and invented ‘upsengry’ and ‘confuzle’. There is intrigue in this story, a sprinkling of magic when two genies appear, plenty of humour and the occasional social comment too. The DREAD SHED, for example, was for the ‘bad poor’ not the ‘bad rich’. Adults and children will find plenty to talk about and enjoy and the illustrations and varied format add to the book’s appeal.



Share the story

Read the story to your child pausing to talk about aspects of the story or illustration when your child wants to.

Some parts you might like to read together eg the conversation between Malcolm and his friend Crackersnacker in chapter 11 and the conversation between Malcolm and his uncle in chapter 17.

Talk about the story

Which bits did you find funniest? Go back and read them again together.

Did anything puzzle you?

Have fun talking in an old book voice eg ‘I know not of what you speak’

Collect words that rhyme like measles/easels or words that mean the same thing eg abolished.

Things to make and do

Stick up a big piece of paper and think up some really hard questions where you don’t know the answer and make a list. You could add some ‘killer’ answers too.

Make an annotated drawing of a DREAD SHED what might be in it?

Sing along to the matelot song: Ohe Ohe Matelot


Find out more

Hear Michael Rosen talking about the book

Read more books by Michael Rosen,

Titles for 7+ include

Fantastic Mr Dahl

Michael Rosen’s A-Z: the best children’s poetry from Agard to Zephaniah

Mustard, custard, grumble belly and gravy

Titles for younger children include:

The Great Big Cuddle; poems for the very young

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

This is our House


Find out more about the illustrator, Neal Layton

His other books include:

Stanley’s Stick

The Story of Everything


Read One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean

To beat Uncle Gobb and find out who did win the men’s 100 metre final in 1912? Look here


Buy Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed