My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books


Visiting Mr Huff and his creator, Anna Walker.

Just like her picture books, Anna Walker is sweet, gentle and thoughtful, and as well as being down-to-earth, she’s also exceptionally gifted. Meeting her at her Mr Huff Exhibition at the gallery in Melbourne’s CBD was like a dream becoming reality. Her books are well-loved and highly treasured in our household, and for so long I have longed to make contact but didn’t have the courage.

But now I’ve done it! Face-to-face! I felt like a brave little chicken being swept away with the excitement in the city!
Anna was simply delightful. She answered all my questions generously and politely, even the silly ones! And her work, well, you think it’s enchanting in the books? Yes. But even more so to view up close and personal! Just sublime. The amount of detail with individually cut and pasted floorboards, leaves, tiny characters all with their very unique personalities. The level of skill in her intricate watercolour paintings, etches and sketches, and miniature models is simply extraordinary.   

Backtrack a bit… This was the second attempt at making the trip into the city, but as it turned out, the weather was (slightly) better, and we (Miss 5 and I) had time to prepare a little gift for the talented author / illustrator (one of our faves), just to show how much we love her. With some prior planning, (and a little bit of help from me), Miss 5 drew and painted her favourite Anna Walker characters in what we thought turned out to be quite a whimsical piece.

The teacher in me was happy to see her drawing on her knowledge of various Walker tales and creating an innovative pictorial story. “Alfie is searching for Sharkie and he’s shouting so loud that he’s blowing Peggy away with the wind from his mouth!” (Can you spot Sharkie?!)
But did Anna Walker like it? She certainly seemed impressed and complimented Miss 5 on her artistic skills.:)
So, for a glorious half hour or so, we had Anna Walker and her magical ‘Mr Huff’ world all to ourselves (pretty much), feeling absolutely enchanted by her brilliant words and images. Wow! An experience to remember!  

Inside Scoop!

 Anna is currently working on a new story about a little girl on a ‘flowery’ kind of adventure! It sounds absolutely magical. Only to be released in two to three years, though. But her new ‘What Do You Wish For?’ Christmas book with Jane Godwin will be out soon! Yay!  

See more of Anna Walker and her books on her website.

Buy Mr Huff here (affiliate link).

Written and photographed by Romi Sharp, 2015.  

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Alfie’s Lost Sharkie: Teaching Notes

alfie-s-lost-sharkieAlfie’s Lost Sharkie, Anna Walker (author, illus.), Scholastic Press, 2015.  


We just loved Alfie as he dawdled his way out of the house in ‘Hurry Up Alfie!’ (see review). Now we are excited to see him return, and this time he’s dawdling on his way to bed. But who can sleep when their favourite bedtime toy has gone missing?

Like in ‘Hurry Up Alfie!’, the story is once again relayed through the gentle, humorous, and all-too-familiar conversation between mum and child. Mum has to subtly coerce Alfie into following the night time routine as he searches for his toy, Sharkie.
”Let’s see if he’s in the bath.”
”He might be hiding in your pyjama drawer.”
”Have a look on the bookshelf, Alfie. It’s time for a story.”

Alfie finds himself in the oddest of situations, and whilst we might think that falling into the clothes drawer and mis-placed pyjamas on Steve McQueen the cat is hilarious, Alfie does not and is still determined to find his toy. But will Alfie’s strong-headed, independent mind see him succeed in his attempts to uncover Sharkie’s whereabouts, and perhaps put off bedtime for just a little longer?

Strong, loveable and totally relatable characters both for parents and children, and adorably warm, familiar and creative illustrations by Anna Walker make ‘Alfie’s Lost Sharkie’ yet another enchanting classic that preschoolers will want to read again and again.  


Before Reading:
Read (or re-read) ‘Hurry Up Alfie!’ to familiarise with the main characters; Alfie and his mum. What kind of words can you use to describe Alfie? (appearance, personality, likes, dislikes, etc).
Play a game of Hide ‘n Seek with a toy, placing it in a difficult location. Once found, ask the child how they felt when they couldn’t find the toy, and how they felt when they found it.
Look at the cover of ‘Alfie’s Lost Sharkie’. What can you tell about Alfie in the picture? Why do you think he might be looking for Sharkie? What is Sharkie? Have you ever lost your favourite toy? What did you do?  

During Reading:
Where do you think Sharkie is? What do you think Alfie has to do next to get ready for bed?  

After Reading:
Do you think Alfie’s mum was happy with him? Why or why not? Do you think Alfie really needed Sharkie for bedtime? Why? How do you think Sharkie ended up in Alfie’s bed?


Alfie’s Lost Sharkie Letter Matching Activity
Recognise and match letters and sounds.

1. Complete the cut and paste activity sheet. Download Alfie’s Lost Sharkie Letter Match Sheet
2. Find and list other words that begin with ‘A’ for Alfie, or ‘Sh’ for Sharkie.
3. Hide a range of toys or objects around the house. Once found, ask the child to say the beginning sound, letter and the name of the toy. Any that begin with the same sounds can be grouped together.  
Alfie's lost sharkie literacy bw

Bedtime Routine Chart
Match pictures with corresponding word.
Sequence events in order.

1. Cut and paste picture to match the correct bedtime routine task. Eg. Toothbrush picture matches ‘brush teeth’ text.
2. Place each set in order of events from first to last. Eg. Bath first, lights out last.
3. Add your own night time task to the list. Follow the routine every night!
Download Bedtime routine chart.
Bedtime routine chart pic

Sift and Spell Literacy Game
Objective: Recognise sounds in words in correct order.

1. See the link for instruction details.
2. Adapt the words to suit those related to ‘Alfie’s Lost Sharkie’.
3. For younger children write the whole word next to the picture (eg. shark), then ask the child to find each letter and match them with your word.


‘Find Sharkie’ Number Recognition Game

Number recognition 1-10 (or 1-12, or 1-20).
Recognise and name colours.

Dozen egg carton (alternatively use paper cups),
plasticine (or playdough / bluetac),

1. Make a small shark sculpture using playdough, plasticine or blue tac. Use the pencil to poke eyes and teeth. The shark must fit under an egg cup.
2. Cut out egg cups individually. Decide on the number of egg cups depending on the level of the child.
3. Paint each egg cup a different colour. Once dry, paint on the numbers 1 to 10 (or 12), one number per egg cup.
4. Set them out ready to play!

‘Find Sharkie’ Number Recognition Game – How to Play:
1. One person hides ‘Sharkie’ underneath one of the egg cups.
2. The seeker must say a number and lift that corresponding number to see if ‘Sharkie’ is there. Continue until found. If there are multiple players, take turns.
3. Play more rounds by hiding ‘Sharkie’ in higher numbers, and add more numbered egg cups (up to 20) to increase difficulty.
4. Further increase difficulty by mixing up the numbers so that they are not in ascending order.
5. Alternate Games:
– Colour Recognition –
Play the game as above, but child must now say the number and the colour. Eg. ”Five, green”.
– One to one correspondence –
Make different sculptures (or balls) to match the number on the egg cup. Eg. Make three sculptures to match the ‘3’ egg cup, etc. Count them to reinforce number skills.
– Letter Recognition –
Play the ‘Find Sharkie’ game with letters written on the egg cups to play a Literacy game.

Could Sharkie be in the bath?
Explore sinking and floating experiments with different objects found in nature.
Digging for Sharkie.
Melt ice blocks with salt, and dig out your treasures! These have been made for Halloween, but you can freeze any small objects you wish.  

Art / Craft
Search for Sharkie with these great shark binoculars!
Make some cool shark tubes (or alternate with paper cups).
Free animal mask printables, including a crocodile and a shark!

Lessons and photography by Romi Sharp
All sourced resources have been credited.
These are for personal and classroom use only and not permitted for commercial use.
My Little Story Corner 2015