I just love The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It’s one of those books you read again and again, and we’ve actually got our own little tune for the song – something we sing together with gusto. It’s the kind of book the kids will bring to me and ask me to read to them, and we’ll take turns with the different parts. And to boot, it has a fantastic moral and gives you all the feels.
What’s The Ugly Five about?
Spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you the story, more or less.
We all know Africa’s Big Five, right? Well, this is the story of the lesser cherished and admired Ugly Five. In the midst of the beautiful bushveld the ugly wildebeest enters the picture. She feels somewhat sorry for herself, singing a song about being the “ugly one” with whiskers and a beard and what not.
She meets the hyena with his ugly laugh and his spotty fur and he thinks he’s pretty grim too, so she tells him to join the club and off they amble singing a song about being the ugly two.
So they keep on going till they’ve met a xx xxx and a xxxx and a xxxx.
But as all good children’s stories must, this one ends on a positive – the Ugly Five walk into a clearing and what do they see? A whole bunch of babies staring back at them, and what do the babies think about the ugly ones? They think they’re beautiful! They think they’re lovely! It’s true, unconditional love at it’s finest, people.
The book ends with a question. Who would you want to see if you went on safari? The Big Five, The Shy Five, The Ugly Five or The Smallest Five. It’s a great discussion point for looking at some of the animals you’ll find on the African plains.
What are the lessons in The Ugly Five?
I love books for introducing other topics of conversation. It’s such a natural way to slip into a discussion that might be hard to find an entry point into otherwise. The Ugly Five is about self-acceptance, finding where you belong, even if it’s not with the cool kids, and unconditional love. Every time we read this together it ends in a lovely bit of us-time.
About the illustrator
The illustrator is Axel Scheffler, an artist well accustomed to working with Julia Donaldson, so you’ll recognise the style from over 20 of her other books. It’s familiar and fabulously illustrated, great colours that take me right back to the Bushveld. It’s a really great job and I’m pretty confident that The Ugly Five is my favourite of their collaborations.
About the book
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Age Range: 2 – 6 years (my 8 year old loves it too!)
- Publisher: Alison Green Books; 1 edition (14 Jun. 2018)
- Language: English
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This is a great readalong book while you’re studying year 1 science with curriculum links to
Sc1/2.2b identify and name a variety of common animals that are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores
Click the image below for more year 1 science
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