When Creature Met Creature – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: language, questions, enthusiasm, words, understanding.
Children’s book title: When Creature Met Creature.
Children’s author: John Agard
Children’s illustrator: Satoshi Kitamura.
Genre: picture book.
Published by: Scallywag Press
Recommended for children aged: 4+
This edition published: Hardback March 2022.
This children’s book is ideal for: encouraging enthusiasm for reading in young children.
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Are you the parent of a small child who’s shown signs of getting interested in linguistic philosophy? And are you looking for the perfect book to read with them and encourage them in their new enthusiasm? Your search is over.
I’m not being flippant. This is a book which invites quite young children to consider the importance of language, and how difficult, or even impossible, life would be if it were denied to us.
Creature-Of-No-Words inhabits a placid, undemanding world, observing it without judgement, absorbing simple and immediate sensations. Exactly like an infant, in fact. But as time goes on he begins to feel a gnawing dissatisfaction and disappointment. He has no means of responding to this feeling, apart from a vague, undirected exclamation: Grrrrrrr!!
But watching from behind a nearby tree is Creature-Of-Words. She understands his frustration. She lives in a world of words. When she is happy, splashing in the sea, or eating something nice, or making a warm fire, she can embrace and enlarge her experience with words.
Over time, she makes friends with Creature-Of-No-Words and introduces him to language.
From that day the two of them lived
together in a house where words also lived,
which was all well and good.
They not only savoured the joys of language, they saw the value of quiet times together, just listening to sweet silence after a long rain.
The ultimate test of any book I review for this age range is my grandson, now nearly four.
I could see that he was clearly stimulated and interested by the questions that this book raises. We sometimes play a game where we speak nonsense sentences to each other, tacking a ‘real’ word on at the end:
Me: Blob blobber slompy dopper hungry
Him: Sloober dobber slobberty sandwich
This week we took it a little further and tried to communicate without any words at all, using only gestures and facial expressions. It’s like being a baby, he said.
This is more than a straightforward story; I don’t think it’s an overstatement to call it a portal into a deeper understanding of the child’s everyday world, and the crucial role played in it by language.
Satoshi Kitamura’s pictures also proved a big hit. We used them as models and templates for our own, so if my grandson doesn’t make an impression in the world of Philosophy, he’s always got Art to fall back on.
Many thanks to Scallywag Press for the review copy.
If you like When Creature Met Creature by John Agard you might also like: The Little Thing by Nick Cave, Book of Numbers by Oliver Jeffers, A Million Dots by Sven Völker, Alone! by Barry Falls, NO! said Rabbit by Marjoke Henrichs and our list of books for reception children.
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