The shadowing group for the 3-6 category met today to discuss Mini Grey’s Hermelin and Chris Haughton’s Shh! We Have a Plan. The general consensus of the group was that Shh! We Have a Plan was the favourite for classroom use in that age range. I wasn’t able to make the meeting today but have added my thoughts on the two books here. If you were there, or even if you have read either book, add your opinion by commenting on the post.
A deceptively simple book, Shh! We Have a Plan is full of repetition and phrases for the reader to anticipate. In fact the story really just consists of one episode repeated four times with slight variations. The use of colour contrasting is very effective with blue tones used for everything apart from the birds who burst with colour. The illustrations are so supportive that it could actually work as a wordless book whereas you would not be able to follow the story if there were no illustrations. The pictures provide a wealth of information to the reader, allowing them in on the secret that the small hunter actually has the best plan. Overall, Chris Haughton has managed to communicate a range of underlying messages in a very simple but effective story.
Hermelin is a very different picture book and could also work with children older than the 3-6 age category. It is crammed with illustrative details, clues and snippets of text alongside the main story which is very effective for visual literacy and in making the reader turn detective alongside Hermelin. The story ends with a further mystery for the reader to solve which means going back through the book again to search for the clues. The story contains a lot of alliteration and word play which makes it fun. Compared to Shh! We Have a Plan, it is almost too busy and the different fonts, text size and layouts are slightly overwhelming at times and may be off-putting for some children, particularly those with dyslexia or reading difficulties. You really need to read it a few times to make sure to pick up on everything which makes it difficult to read aloud but could work in literature circles.
What did you think?