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Book Review - Oi Aardvark!

Title: Oi Aardvark!

Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

Author: Kes Grey

Illustrator: Jim Field

Oi Aardvark! is the fantastic new offering from the creators of the award winning Oi Frog!. As with all of its predecessors, this is packed full of humour, sure to have children giggling from start to finish. This is definitely not a book which will be read once and then left to gather dust on the bookcase. Children will be requesting this time and time again.

In Oi Aardvark!, Frog is up to his usual antics, making sure everyone is sitting where they should. This time, frog has written his own book, calling it “My All New Alphabetty Botty Book” (cue the start of the giggling!) Frog’s book features all the new animals that he has not as yet found a sitting place for. Every creature in the alphabet has a new sitting place, based on a word with which they rhyme. Cat and Dog are back, offering their sense of solidarity (Dog) and doubt (Cat), adding another comedic element to this riotous book. Their characters are brought to life through the amazing illustrations by Jim Field. He expertly captures facial expressions, from exasperation and happiness, to wonder and surprise.

Frog has come up with sitting places for a range of unusual creatures, prompting lots of discussion with children about where they live, what they look like, and the food that they eat.

We begin with ‘A’, and Frog has chosen an Aardvark who will sit on a card shark. Cat helps us out by asking Frog what a card shark is! As the book progresses through the alphabet, we come across creatures including gazelles, iguanas, jerboas, kudu, orcas and pangolins. Each one sitting on something children will find hilariously funny. For instance, we have the kudu sitting on doo-doo, llamas on pyjamas and orcas on piggy porkers! Imagine the giggles!

This book isn’t just fun to listen to and read, it is a fantastic addition to early phonics teaching, thanks to its pattern of rhymes. We all know that making rhymes fun and using them in play can aid early reading, so Oi Aardvark!, along with its predecessors, is an Early Years must. This book brings rhyme to life in a fun, practical way in which children can be involved. The reader can draw the children in, making it interactive and engaging, prompting discussion about what the creatures could be sitting on, which animal might come next and practising the letter sounds. There is so much potential with this book to link to play and learning; here are some ideas to try at home, in setting or school...

Activities to link to Oi Aardvark!:

• Send each child home with a picture of an animal. You could draw these if you are feeling artistic, or print photos from the internet. Ask each family to find objects at home that the creature could sit on. You’ll have to think carefully here to ensure each child will be able to find something – a salamander might be a bit too tricky! Children can take photos and families can upload them to their learning journey or to print out to take in to the setting. This makes for a fun, collaborative way to extend the book into homes, then come together to share findings.

• Go on a rhyme walk with some small world creatures. What can the children find in the environment that the creatures could sit on? This is great for observational skills, encouraging children to visually engage with what is around them.

• Use your names as rhyming words in a small group. What could you all sit on? An adult can scribe the children’s words, showing them that their ideas are valued and have meaning.

• Sort through some of your resources, finding rhyming pairs. Put them in two separate baskets and explain to the children that the rhyming pairs have got mixed up and you need their help to sort them out. Take it in turns for children to select one item from the first basket, then find the rhyming pair from the second basket.