Wanted the Perfect Pet discussion guide


 

Author Fiona Roberton

Illustrator: Fiona Roberton

Publisher: Hachette

Synopsis: Henry wants a dog more than anything else in the world but his mother protests that he already has plenty of frogs.  So Henry decides to advertise for ‘The Perfect Pet’ and then he waits… meanwhile, the duck is lonely he wants a companion.  When he sees the advert for ‘the perfect pet’ he gets an idea for the ‘perfect disguise.’ The duck arrives on Henry’s doorstep, it seems his wishes have been granted.. but ducks are not very good at doggy things and soon his deception is revealed. What will Henry do next?

Rationale for selection: Fiona Roberton’s picture book is structured in three short chapters, each perfectly paced with it’s own problem and resolution, which can provide an accessible way to talk about story structure with children at Key Stage 2. Teachers will appreciate the inclusion of different kinds of text within the narrative (adverts, lists, captioned drawings) but above all it is the emotional appeal of the story that will make this a favourite with children.

Discussion point

Before reading:

Share the cover of this book with the children.

  • What do they think the story will be about?
  • What pet do they think the boy wants – invite them to predict from the pictures.
  • Is there anything interesting about the style of lettering that has been used? Leave responses open at this point and ask the children to check their predictions as they read.

During Reading

 

Read chapter 1: invite the children to share the parts they most enjoyed. 

  • Have you ever wanted something and been told you  can’t have it?
  • What do you do when you are told they can’t have something that you really, really want?
  • Why do you think Henry wants a pet so badly?
  • Henry decides to place an advert in the paper. Is this a good idea?
  • Encourage an open sharing of ideas and probe the reasons why they might not always be able to have what they want.
  • What does the term ‘spoilt’ mean? Is it a good thing to be able to always have what you want?
  • Avoid an overly didactic approach to allow children to express their points of view.

 

Re read the advertisement that Henry places in the paper.

  • How can we tell this is an advertisement?
  • List any features or characteristics of newspaper advertising that the children know.
  • Is there anything clever or funny in the other advertisements that you would like to share? 

 

Read chapter 2:

Invite the children to share anything they found particularly interesting or that they enjoyed.

  • What is the name of the newspaper that the Duck is reading?
  • Does anyone know the word ‘catastrophe’? 
  • What might be described as a catastrophe?
  • Do you think this is this a good name for a newspaper? Why? Why not?
  • What do they think will happen after the duck has created his perfect disguise?
  • Is it a perfect disguise? Why do you think that?

 Read chapter 3

Read up to the point where the duck is discovered.

  • What do you think will happen next?
  • Read on  to ‘ he made a list’ so that children can check their predications.        

Read to the end of the book. Blank out  the name that Henry gives the duck.

  • What would be a good name for the duck?
  • What name do you think Henry will give the duck?
  • Reveal the name. Is this a good name? why? Why not?

After reading:

Invite the children to talk about the part so the story they liked best.

  • In what ways was it different from other picture books you have read? Guide them to think about the 3 chapter structure? 
  • Remind them that all stories have problems, that is what makes them interesting to read. In Wanted: the perfect pet, each chapter has a problem and a solution. Identify the problem and solution in each chapter.

Which of these ideas do you think best describes the story:

  • Good things happen when you least expect them
  • Don’t pretend to be something that you are not. It is always better to be yourself.
  • A good friend is someone who accepts you for what you are.
  • Ducks make better pets than dogs.
  • Dogs make better pets than ducks.
  • Frogs are boring because you can’t chase them around trees.
  • You should be allowed to have whatever you want.

Revisit the cover and compare it to the American covers.

   

How does each cover give different clues as to what the story is about?

Which do you think  is the best cover and why?

Create an advertisement for your favourite pet. Write a story about an adventure with your pet.

 

Copyright: Just Imagine Story Centre Ltd

All rights reserved.

These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.

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