Age guide: 2 to 8 years & grown-up
With the friendliest looking boa constrictor ever greedily gobbling children on a nature walk with their teacher (it’s pink and green instead of the usual yellow and green or brown) – this is a joyful and funny book. It’s especially funny if you could possibly be one of the people the book is inscribed to: ‘all absent-minded parents and enthusiastic teachers’.
Which I imagine covers most adults at one time or another.
This is the story of a school nature walk gone horribly wrong, then most satisfyingly redeemed. A school class led by Miss Jellaby (who looks young, enthusiastic and determined) goes for a walk in the jungle and look for ‘something exciting’.
In spite of the plethora of exotic jungle animals on every page, Miss Jellaby focuses on ants, spiders and the like. But one the boys sees that they are being followed by a boa constrictor, which picks off his classmates one by one until they are all lumps in the boa’s very long tummy! Miss Jellaby rises to the occasion, rescues the children and takes them all to a Burger Bungalow (because ‘Anywhere in the world, they’re never far away’). And alls well that ends well.
Many of the plants and animals featured on the pages are endangered – so there’s an element of Miss Jellaby not noticing them due to their endangered status making them hard to find. But there’s also the value of small things – to the eco system and being simply interesting in their own right.
Lots of fun can be had with counting – how many children are there when they set out on their walk (12) and how many are left after each time the boa constrictor takes one or more of the children. Finally, when the children come tumbling out of the boa constrictor Miss Jellaby counts them to check they are all there (and looks quite self-satisfied while she does).
There are also great memory games to be played – the names of the children, the order in which they are ‘swallowed’, who’s who among the children and so on. One of the children – Peter – is in a wheelchair, and this doesn’t even rate a mention until the boa spits him out. Peter is simply another child on a walk in the jungle – nicely done.
While this is a really fun book for children, it’s also a gentle prod for parents and teachers to be mindful of what children are saying and to keep in mind the big picture, even when we have a really good plan to teach something important. :)
A Nice Walk in the Jungle is by Nan Bodsworth - it would make a fun gift for a graduating teacher.
PPS I am pretty sure that this is where all my children first came across the words herbivore, omnivore and carnivore – which led to a lot of fun choosing which type of eater they would be at dinner etc.
Names in this book: Jake, Jenny, Mai Lin, Penny