Review Blog

Mar 15 2017

The perfect picnic by Ciara Flood

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2017. ISBN 9781760405366
(Age: 3-6) Highly recommended. Ciara Flood's The perfect picnic is a quintessentially English tale of friendship, as Squirrel and Mole prepare for a picnic in the countryside. Just like the Odd Couple, these two characters are the complete opposites of each other; Squirrel is the perfectionist while Mole is more easygoing. Squirrel's tree trunk home 'Oak Lodge' shown in a beautiful cutaway picture is neat and tidy, everything in its perfect place. His house is next to Mole's underground home 'The Shack' which has mess outside and inside, even his vegetable patch is untidy.
Their friendship is celebrated by dancing, baking, cycling, even painting together. Preparing for the perfect picnic involves Squirrel directing the careful packing of the backpack with delicious food, cutlery and the rug. While Mole is given the responsibility of carrying the backpack, Squirrel wants to find the perfect spot, however the meadow is too sunny, and the hill too windy and the beach is just too sandy. Oh no, while the two friends were searching for the perfect spot, the picnic bag ripped and all the food has fallen out. The perfectionist Squirrel is overcome and all her plans are ruined!
To their surprise, their friends have followed their journey and each one has rescued something from the picnic bag. Bat has the rug, Otter has the apples and Mouse has the plate of slightly squashed cake balanced above his head. What could they do with the sandy sandwiches, cold tea and bent cutlery? It is up to Mole to save the day? The delightful story ends with Squirrel repeating Mole's refrain, 'Right you are, Mole. Right you are.'
Ciara Flood's whimsical illustrations are visually appealing and a delight to peruse. While the text focuses on Squirrel's search for the perfect spot, the ripping of the backpack and loss of all the picnic items is shown entirely through the lovely painted pictures. What a wonderful way to begin a discussion with a young child about what is really happening. The sepia toned maps on the endpapers show the journey of the two friends and introduce the idea of mapping their journey as well.
The perfect picnic is a wonderful resource for Early Years teachers, for Foundation Geography - simple mapping and introducing places and environments and for English engagement with visual texts.
Rhyllis Bignell

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