Big Pet Day, Lisa Shanahan (author), Gus Gordon (illus.), Lothian Children’s Books, 2014.
Shortlisted in 2015 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards (5 – 8 years).
What an exciting day at school! ‘Big Pet Day’ is a tale of mammoth exuberance as Lily’s class celebrate the individual qualities and talents of their pets. Much to her dismay, Mrs Dalton’s classroom quickly becomes a disorganised chaotic mess. The principal, Mr Fisher, will be judging the best pet later that day, so keeping everyone under control is of the utmost importance. There is a runaway ferrett, a pooping pony, and a cordial-drinking puppy. Lily’s pet dragon is very well-behaved though, but she is the only one who knows how special he is. In a hilarious finale, involving a squealing, hermit crab-fearing Mr Fisher, it is Lily’s dragon who is now ‘seen’ as the most deserving gold trophy winner.
The text by Lisa Shanahan is absolutely comical, with many personalities evident – the cheekiest would have to be Mrs Dalton! There is a lot to discover, with the various children and the shenanigans of their pets, and illustrator Gus Gordon covers all these aspects expertly with charm and humour. I love the page with the kids looking exactly like their pet counterparts! Gorgeous! His use of scanned images, adorable hand-drawn characters and fine details (like Mrs Dalton’s book titled ‘Pet Management’) allow for hours of perusal and plenty of giggles.
‘Big Pet Day’ is perfect for primary school aged children (and their teachers), with scope for open discussions on pets (real and imagined), classroom management, friendship and loyalty. This book is both entertaining and heartwarming. It’s a winner!
This review appeared first at Boomerang Books.
Use a story bag and fill it with items relating to the story. Eg. Pictures / toys of different animals and a dragon, a gold trophy, pet accessories (brush, collar, ball, etc).
Have children guess what the story might be about as they refer to the items.
Ask, Do you have a pet? If you could have any pet what would it be? How do you take care of a pet? Can a dragon be a pet? Why or why not? What would you teach a dragon if you had one as a pet?
Would you like to take your pet to school? What tricks would you like it to show? Do you think Mrs Dalton likes having the pets in her classroom?
Do you think Courtney is right about Lily’s dragon? What do you notice about the technique used in the pictures?
How do you think the teachers and students will respond to Lily’s dragon’s roars?
What unusual things does your pet do? Which animal/s in the story did you like best? Why or why not?
Why do you think the class liked Lily’s picture of herself and her flying dragon best?
How did each student get their pet ready for the parade? How did Lily get her pet dragon ready? What are the special qualities about Lily’s dragon that make him unique? Do you think he deserved to be the gold trophy winner? Why?
How did Lily handle the others not believing in her dragon? Could she have responded to Courtney’s untrustworthiness in a different way? Could Courtney have responded to Lily’s stories differently?
De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.
Download Big Pet Day 6 Thinking Hats, formulate and answer your own questions about Lily and her dragon in ‘Big Pet Day’. Here are some examples.
Blue Hat – Processes. Thinking about thinking: Organise your own class pet day.
White Hat – Facts. Information and data: List the ways the children took care of their pets when getting ready for the Grand Parade.
Red Hat – Feelings. Intuition, instincts: How did Lily and her dragon feel to be the winner? How did they feel when no one took notice of them?
Green Hat – Creativity. Ideas, possibilities: What creative things could you teach your pet?
Yellow Hat – Benefits. Positives: What are the best things about having a pet dragon / any pet?
Black Hat – Cautions. Difficulties, weaknesses: What are the most dangerous / difficult things about having a pet dragon / any pet?
– Persuasive Text. Complete and illustrate: ‘The best pet is…. because…’.
– Creative Writing. Write a story around the theme of keeping a pet dragon.
– Comprehension. The students got their pets ready for the Grand Parade.
Match the description of how they took care of their animals with the correct picture. Download Big Pet Day Match Up
– Read other books and fairy tales about dragons. Compare and contrast fierceness vs gentleness, personality traits and appearance, and so on.
– Measurement: Ordering Pets by Size.
Collect a range of toys of different sizes. Have student/s order and identify them from smallest to largest.
Use other vocabulary to describe sizes. Eg. Tiniest, medium-sized, biggest, etc. Draw them in their order and label.
– Sorting. Use the Big Pet Day Cut and Paste to sort the animals into various categories.
A three way venn diagram is included for categories of three (eg. Feathers, Fur, Fins).
– Graphs and Data: Favourite Pets Graph.
As a group, list a range of favourite pets. Students survey each other and make a tally against each given pet. Count and mark the number of votes for each pet, and graph the results on a bar or picture graph. Discuss results.
Optional: include imaginary pets in the survey.
– Bubble Creatures.
Bubbles are always a fascinating discovery with the mixture of detergent and water and its transparency, soapy surface, expanding and popping qualities.
Here’s a fun way to explore bubbles and create your own ‘bubble-breathing’ dragon at the same time! From Two-Daloo.
Arts / Crafts.
– Dragon Crafts.
Find a range of fantastic dragon crafts from Activity Village.
– Collage Art.
Cut out pictures from magazines or photos, and incorporate them into a painting of your favourite scene, or create your own Grand Pet Parade.
Materials: magazine cut outs, photos, paint, pencil, glue.
Lessons by Romi Sharp.
© My Little Story Corner 2015.
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal or classroom use only and are not permitted for commercial purposes without written consent.
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