Review Blog

Apr 03 2014

Sylvester and Arnold by David Bedford and Tom Jellett

cover image

Little Hare, 2013. ISBN 9781921714542.
Sylvester was a BIG, TOUGH croc. And so was Arnold. Sylvester wore tough-croc shorts, A tough-croc vest and tough-croc boots. When he went out to play he put on an ugly tough-croc face. So did Arnold. Both spent all day making sure that everyone in the big, wide swamp where they lived knew who was boss. But they had never met, until one day.
This is a delightful story of how these two crocs set out how to be fiercer than the other but then an even bigger threat arrives and suddenly they are bullies no longer. It has a twist in its tail that is charming and offers much to discuss about being friends and building friendships.
Tom Jellett's illustrations are the perfect accompaniment and offer a lot to explore about perspective. Even though each page is the same size, how does he manage to portray the size and fierceness of Sylvester and Arnold and then dwarf this with his illustrations of Betty?
There is plenty of scope for little ones to be both the fierce, tough Sylvester and Arnold and then contrast that with the meek and mild Sylvester and Arnold as they try to sneak away under the cover of darkness. Whole-body interaction accompanied by emotions, expressions and noise!
It would also serve as a great introduction to the research process if you ask the students what they already know about crocodiles before you read it. Then, afterwards, discuss which parts might be true and which parts are made up. Share other fiction stories about crocs and then contrast these with the factual resources highlighting the difference between what is written for the imagination and what is written for information. Introduce the interpretation of text by showing how the Bedford and Jellett can let their imaginations roam because their purpose is to entertain rather than inform. If your non-fiction resources are separate from the fiction, explain the library layout and where the crocodile resources are located. And there are dozens of ways each could present what they have learned to create an engaging display for the library's walls. Who would have thought 32 pages could contain so much?
Barbara Braxton

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