Michael Rosen, Neal Layton (illus)
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
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
His other books include:
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