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Mr John Burningham

John Burningham

For those of you familiar with the Madeleine Lindley book centre, you will be aware that one of their best features is their commitment to stocking THE most up to date books. Books that are being launched that very week are available to buy on the day. Staff are so knowledgeable about up coming books and advise with confidence about ‘what is on the way’ in the world of publishing. Debut authors are celebrated and promoted so that children (and their teachers) have a rich diet of literature.

However, on a more recent visit I was presented with a selection of books from an old favourite author and illustrator, Mr John Burningham (whose first picture book, Borka, debuted in 1963). I was familiar with some of his titles but was unaware of the breadth of literature he had provided us with. After spending time reading some of his classics, I have selected three to share with you.

Even though we all love to find new talent, often hidden gems that are fresh on the market or author’s first offerings to our wonderful world of picture books, perhaps we should take a break and look over our shoulders at the timeless classics that are also lining the shelves in our favourite book centre, Madeleine Lindley.

Would you rather…

would you rather

would you rather spread

This book is full of choices and options. So it is perfect for introducing younger children to the skills of forming an opinion. I have used the sample page with year 1 and 2 children and encouraged them to use the conjunctions ‘so’ and ‘because’ in their responses, for example ‘I would choose the elephant drinking my bath water so I could have a shower!’ or ‘ I wouldn’t let a pig try on my clothes because then my clothes would smell like pig!’
I have also used this text with years 5 and 6 children who justify each option using evidence from their own opinions, for example, ‘ I wouldn’t want a hippo in my bed, as my bed would probably break and I love my sleep. A pig trying on my clothes would be awful as they would rip! An eagle eating my dinner could be fun as then I could go straight for pudding! But actually, an elephant drinking my bath water would help the environment so I will go for that one!’ As you can see, each page opens up a whole world of rich discussion. As we all know, once children can articulate their opinions verbally, this has a direct impact on the quality of their writing.

The Magic Bed

the magic bed the magic bed spread

A beautiful story about George who believes his bed is magic and can take him on wonderful adventures whilst he sleeps. This book will provide the perfect stimulus for imaginative and creative writing as children write their own ‘magic bed’ journeys. However, this John Burningham classic can be used to teach (pretty much!) the whole KS1 and KS2 grammar and punctuation appendix! Here are some of the specifics:

Conjunctions: and, but, or, because

Fronted adverbials: On the way to the shopping centre… After some time… That evening… At breakfast the next day… on one of his journeys… Some nights… Another night …While they were away

Range of punctuation: full stops, question marks, inverted commas, commas, ellipsis, apostrophe for contraction and possession,

Range of tenses: go, saw, parked, went, found, have, could travel, say, cleaned, bought, you will, can travel, got ready, tried, was travelling, landed, had wandered, took, had flown, forgot, climbed, leaped, rose,

EDWARDO The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World

edwardo edwardo spread
This delightful story reminds every reader how to forgive childishness and to treat children well. Throughout the text, everybody points out Edwardo’s flaws. The turning point in the story is where people begin to turn his flaws into positives. Children could re-create their own versions of this cautionary tale.

It is also a wonderful book for teaching the comparative and superlative:

rough, rougher, roughest

  • noisy, noisier, noisiest
  • nasty, nastier, nastiest
  • cruel, more cruel, cruellest
  • messy, messier, messiest
  • dirty, dirtier, dirtiest

I hope you have enjoyed a trip down memory lane with just three of my favourite John Burningham classics. If you have, why not pop along to the book centre and discover your favourite of his – there are many to choose from.

Maddy Barnes                       @moonmaddy                    June 2016

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