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Valentine’s Guest House

Sam Sharland
Child’s Play
Age 3-5

Valentine runs a guest house, and her daughter Elsie likes to help out, making sure guests have all they need. One day Elsie discovers a tiger hiding in a store cupboard, he is in need of somewhere to stay. The tiger quickly settles into life at the guest house, but unsurprisingly, the human guests are not impressed, and promptly leave.  Valentine is worried that no one will want to stay in her guest house again but when the tiger messages his friends, lots of prospective (four legged!) guests arrive.

There is lots to talk about with a strong message of inclusion as Valentine and Elsie find ingenious ways to accommodate their varying needs – from the tortoise who wants a room with a view but can’t get up the stairs to the elephant who can’t fit through the doorway.   

A delightful picturebook with beautiful illustrations. There are details to spot such as the ways the tiger helps Elsie and her mum. Don’t miss the end papers with a glimpse inside the guest house pre and post its change of occupancy from human to animal guests.

Watch a trailer


Share the story

Read Aloud
Before you begin reading the story to your child talk about the cover image and title. Does your child know what a guest house is? Have they ever stayed in one?

Read the story aloud allowing time to look closely at the illustrations as you do.

Tell the story
Once familiar with the story encourage your child to tell it to you using the pictures to help them – it doesn’t matter if their wording differs as they create their own version.

Talk about the story
▪︎ Count the number of guests arriving at the beginning of the story
▪︎ Share favourite illustrations
▪︎ Look at the end papers and talk about all the changes to Valentine’s Guest House made in the story.
▪︎ Talk about unfamiliar words such as ‘guest house’ and ‘vacancies.’

Things to make and do

Make an advert
Encourage your child to draw their own picture to encourage animals to stay at Valentine’s Guest House. Help them think of the wording eg Come and Stay at … or Room for everyone… Confident writers could write the words themselves or you could scribe for them.

Make an animal guest room
Find a cardboard box and create the perfect home for an animal guest. For example a nest for birds using twigs, moss and feathers or sandy base for a camel or cardboard cut out trees, small plants and leaves for monkeys. If your child wants to make a home for penguins then a shallow tray would be more suitable than a box so you can add water!

Make a bucket lift
Help your child to try lifting a toy in a bucket like tortoise. Place a small, soft or plastic toy inside a seaside bucket. Tie a strong piece of cord or rope around the handle. Place the bucket on the floor draping the cord over the bannisters of a staircase or the back of a chair and pull the bucket and toy up.

Find out More

Find out about animal ‘habitats’
▪︎ Look back at the page showing animals that live underground and find out more about them – moles, rabbits, foxes
▪︎ Or your child may be more interested in animals that live in hot countries or animals that live in cold countries.

Sam Sharland author and illustrator Home | Mysite (