I’ve never come across Snatchabook before, which is a tale about a wee kleptomaniac creature who just wants somebody to read to him. What an advertisement for bedtime reading eh!
This week I read the second offering from the authors of Snatchabook which has made me go on a hunt for that earlier book in my local bookstore.
Abracazebra tells the story of a sleepy lakeside town where nothing much happens…. until one day, Abracazebra – as the name suggests, a zebra who is a magician – rides into town, and sets up a magic show. She’s ready to settle down, and after a few days the locals ask her to stay in their town forever. She agrees. The animals are delighted – all except for Goat, who feels like he’s been knocked off his pedestal by this newcomer. He plots, and gossips, and spreads rumours, until one day, the animals agree that this newest immigrant should not actually be allowed to stay. Zebra forlornly leaves the town one night, but in the morning when the animals wake to find her gone, they realise what they’ve done. Goat leads the search-and-return mission. The book ends with everyone contributing to the town’s happiness. A sleepy place has turned into a vibrant place, where all comers are welcome.
So… first: the illustrations.
The text and the illustrations are intertwined and link up with each other well. The visuals reflect the text, supporting weaker learners, and offer plenty of opportunity for further questions by the teacher (the fish sign on the fishing shop changes expression depending on what’s happening on the page…) The illustrations, while not especially sophisticated, capture the emotions of the animals well.
And the text?
Well, it’s based around a two-line rhyme. The language is mostly quite accessible and useful, and generally doesn’t resort to using overly sophisticated words simply to make the rhyme work.
In Yawnalot, a sleepy old place
Where everyone knew each other’s face
Life went by in its usual way;
Day after day… after day… after day…
What about the story itself?
It’s a lovely story about how everyone can live harmoniously if they put aside their egos, and the damage that can be caused by unpleasant words. The rhyming couplets make for great storytelling techniques, and each page doesn’t give away too much about what’s going to happen – which supports learners to make predictions.
What ages does it work for?
In my context in Korea, I will be using this book with lower Elementary – that is, 6 to 9-year-olds. Any older, and the story wouldn’t appeal. Any younger, and the text would have to be heavily adapted by the teacher – although I would certainly do this with higher level preschoolers.
What could I do with it?
- The most obvious theme of this book is that of acceptance, and the dangers of rumours. Anti-bullying Week is in November – you could tie this book in.
- For older learners, they could make a magic show stage from an old A4-size paper box. Make stick puppets of the main characters, and put on a show for younger learners.
- The universe of the book is one where all the animals mix together, live without humans, and don;t wear clothes. This makes it pretty unique amongst storybooks! Ask learners to think about how this might work. How do the animals communicate with each other? English is fast becoming a global language. Does speaking the same language help people from different cultures to be more tolerant and accepting?
This book can be bought with free worldwide delivery here.
*This book was sent to me to review, although all opinions in this post are entirely my own, and I have not been paid to write a positive review.