Picture books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler will always be deeply entwined in my memories of very early parenthood; alongside sleepless nights and the never-ending attempts to feel like I’d achieved more in a day than simply getting dressed, my first years as a parent were coloured with images and shaped in sound by the superstar picture book creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, The Smartest Giant in the Town, Stick Man, Snail on the Whale and Tiddler; I think I can still recite the words to each of these by heart and even though my eldest is now 12 we still play games based on Tiddler when we go to the swimming pool!
And so it’s a special delight to read Donaldson and Scheffler’s newest book together, The Ugly Five, and to see it as a loving nod to early parenthood, a reassuring and funny tale to remind parents that however haggard they feel, however unkempt and grisly they believe themselves to be, their kids will love them through thick and thin, for what matters is not outward appearance but all the kindness and care and simply being there for them.
The Ugly Five – a wildebeest, a warthog, a spotted hyena, a Lappet-Faced Vulture and a Marabou Stork – are introduced one by one to us in true Donaldson style with a strongly rhthmic rhyming text. Each animal believes themselves to be ugly, and their self-confessed descriptions (for example, legs “covered in poo”) will be sure to elicit squeals of disgusted delight from young audiences. As they roam across African landscapes, these Uglies join up to form a band of friends before eventually stumbling across their youngsters. Here the true nature of these animals is revealed; It’s not their looks that matter but rather their actions, and the young animals are quick to sing the praises of their lovely, loving parents. Being kind and caring makes the Uglies magnificent, whatever their outward appearance.
Donaldson’s text is great fun to read aloud and Scheffler’s comic and characterful illustrations are just the right mix of beastly and beautiful. As well as introducing families to some lesser celebrated African animals, thereby broadening horizons at the same time as being heart-warming and humorous, The Ugly Five also aims to raise awareness of Tusk, a charity working in African on project to alleviate poverty, improve education and reduce conflict, making The Ugly Five, making this book a winner on every level.
Inspired by the scene in The Ugly Five, where the animal youngsters pop out from burrows and from behind branches, we created a pull-tab colouring-in card showing a baby stork coming out to play.
We followed the general pull-tab instructions given in these HowCast video tutorials (1, 2) and used them to create this template which you can download, print, colour-in and transform into your own pull-tab scene.
Julia Donaldson actually started her career as a singer and songwriter and has written many songs to go with her books. Whilst there are plans to release a CD with music to accompany The Ugly Five in the future, it hasn’t yet been recorded and so we enjoyed listening to the vultures singing That’s What Friends Are For, from Disney’s The Jungle Book whilst making our pull-tab cards.
I’m delighted to say I’ve one copy of The Ugly Five to giveaway to a lucky winner.
Win a copy of the new Donaldson/Scheffler picture book, ‘The Ugly Five’ on @playbythebook’s blog http://www.playingbythebook.net/2017/09/04/theuglyfive/ #LoveUgly
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of The Ugly Five by the book’s publisher, Scholastic (Alison Green Books)
UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. The winner was Sarah Rees.