42? Sausages? On the meaning of life and Tim Hopgood’s Little Answer

posted in: Tim Hopgood | 4

littleanswerBoth giggle inducing and surreptitiously brain expanding, Little Answer by Tim Hopgood is about BIG questions (“What is the meaning of life?”, “What is the secret to happiness?”).

And sausages.

Yes, really. It’s about sausages.

And I say that even though you could in fact argue Little Answer is ultimately about the biggest existential questions any of us face; it’s about trying to find out who we are, about trying to understand how we fit into the big wide world.

Profound AND full of laugh out loud moments, kindness and good old fashioned silliness, this is a fabulous book for all ages.

In this philosophical and joyously absurd book Little Answer actually knows his name (‘Sausages‘), but the worrying problem is that he can’t find his question. Something’s missing in his life, and until he can find the Q to his A, things just don’t feel right.

With help from a friend, Little Answer asks around. Could he be the answer to “What makes the wind blow?” or “Where did everything come from?”. There must be a question out there just right for him to answer…

Children will recognise themselves in the gloriously satisfying end to this book, and they and their parents will enjoy the inclusion of brief answers to all the more challenging questions posed in the story. Indeed this is the perfect book for children always asking “Why?”

Tim’s richly textured illustrations are bright and beautiful. His scribbles and prints, full of energy, have an appealing child-like quality to them. Thick crayon strokes look like they’ve just been drawn on the page. And Little Answer’s characterization is brilliant; he’s utterly personable and endearing!

littleanswerreading

Tim’s told me that the idea for this book came to him during a question and answer session at the end of one his school visits.

One boy put his hand up and said “I’ve got a guinea-pig” and the teacher then explained to the boy that that wasn’t a question.

She then asked the class “What does a question need?” to which they all replied “An answer!”.

And at that point Tim immediately thought, “But what if the answer can’t find its question…”

I do hope that little boy and his guinea pig one day find out they’ve inspired a wonderful, witty, and warm book perfect for feeding (and satisfying) curiosity.

***************

You know a book’s hit home when within just a couple of hours of it arriving, the kids are already at play, inspired by the book. And so it was with Little Answer. Balloons were filled with rice (making them lovely to hold), and then eyes, smiles and legs were added to make our own Little Answers.

littleanswer1

M couldn’t resist making a BIG Answer too! And the answers didn’t go nameless for long.

littleanswer2

They were called:

  • Butterfly
  • Mummy
  • Chocolate
  • Loa Loa
  • Ovaries
  • Mint
  • and… 55 (she was the BIG Answer)


  • The girls told me that these were all answers to questions they had come up with, and it was now my job to find out what those questions were.

    Well I like a challenge, and I was certain that one of the questions must involve cake, so off we set for a cafe.

    answerincafe

    To the huge delight of the girls, I was WRONG! None of their answers involved anything to do with a cafe (though they were more than happy to try some cake, just to be sure).

    answerlookingatcake

    I thought I better up my game, so I then decided that the local library would be a good place to look for questions. M was very obliging and looked up the dewey numbers for the books which might help me find the right questions to the answers she and her sister had prepared.

    deweynumbers

    So at least I was in the right section for some of my questions…. and I started knuckled down to work, with the Little Answers looking along side me.

    answersinlib

    The Big Answer preferred to lounge about!

    biganswerinlib

    I have to admit, it was quite a struggle to find the right questions. But in case you’re wondering what they were here they are:

  • What has antennae, wings and is beautiful?
  • Who do you find in Ancient Egyptian tombs?
  • What does Cadburys make?
  • Name a nematode that might live in your gut
  • Name a part of a flower
  • What’s my (M’s) favourite herb?


  • And are you ready for the really really BIG question?

  • What is 165 divided by 3?

  • I especially liked the big question. It really reminds you how different the world can see when you’re a kid!

    Even if I struggled to find all the questions in the library, we had so much fun with this activity. Any game where the kids are in the know and the adults are clueless is always popular in this home! Plus, along the way we got to practise research skills and giggle a great deal. What could be better?

    Music we listened to whilst making our little answers included:

  • There Are More Questions Than Answers by Johnny Nash
  • The Dewey Decimal Rap
  • What’s The Answer? by Gene Harris & The Three Sounds

  • Other fun activities to try out alongside reading Little Answer include:

  • Playing Sausages! Great for a quick giggle… go on, give it a go!
  • Printing your own fabric to match the dress worn by Daisy in the book. Here’s a how the Artful Parent did child friendly fabric printing.
  • Making a snail friend for your little answers. Older children might enjoy making these ones from old tights or sweaters, whilst everyone will love eating these ones!
  • Reading Tim Hopgood’s BIG! (here’s my review) or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, both of which pair perfectly (though in different ways) with Little Answer.

  • What are you the answer to? What questions are you looking for? 🙂

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Little Answer from the author.

    4 Responses

    1. This looks great. Bagl was given Wow Said the Owl (I added it to his wish list after reading one of your earlier posts about Tim’s books) and he loves it, we had read it several times within minutes of him receiving it, which doesn’t often happen with him. Really need to check out some more of his books and will deginitely keep this one in mind for the ‘why?’ stage. Such lovely illustrations.
      Katherine recently posted..#10in2014 – Edinburgh Science Festival

    2. Thanks Katherine, yes Wow said the Owl is lovely indeed (and amongst the first few books I ever reviewed on this blog). I’m a big fan of Tim’s work, so I’m always a little nervous when a new book by him is published, but this was an instant hit.

    3. Bravo! On the book, the post, and the fabulous activities that ensued!

    4. I love the questions that your daughters set you. I’m adding this book to my wish list, I’m curious to read it after reading your review.
      Catherine recently posted..Meg’s Eggs by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

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