29 April 2011

Book of the Week (97): "Actual Size" by Steve Jenkins

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a reading assessment with a boy who didn’t like reading, didn’t want to read and would be going out now to play football not stay inside with the nasty teacher-woman, thank you very much. He, however, stayed inside. And sulked. I sat on one sofa, he on the other – tears glistened in his six-year-old eyes as he stared through the window at the bright sunshine and the green grass that just begged to have a ball kicked on it.

I, however, had a secret weapon. Instead of cajoling him, I sat back and started reading. Occasionally I gasped or ooed. Sometimes I laughed. As we all know, someone laughing at a joke you don’t know about is a terribly aggravating thing… I caught him looking at me – and at the cover of the book I was reading. After a while I exclaimed – no way, that can’t be true!

And at that, I had him. Five minutes later he was engrossed in the book. An hour later he was complaining that he didn’t know enough words yet to understand all the information. It won’t be long before he does.

And the book? Actual Size by Steve Jenkins.

It’s quite simple – pictures of creatures (or bits of creatures) actual size: the tiniest fish (no! THAT small??); the biggest spider (eek!); a 60cm tongue (complete with ants for dinner) and a gorilla’s hand (so, so human…). Simple, but genius. There is no child capable of not being intrigued.

The book isn’t brand new, but has been re-issued by Frances Lincoln – another addition to their truly outstanding range of picture books.

Oh, and many apologies for this being rather late…

Recommended by Leonie Flynn

Next for me is going to be hunting down a copy of Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins – I can’t wait to be astonished!

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