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English

‘Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears’ by Emily Gravett

Grace Woollard By Grace Woollard

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is a beautiful, intriguing and quirky award-winning book which draws the reader in the moment they set eyes on the front cover: Little Mouse is peeping back at us through a hole he has chewed.

The book is presented as a self-help book for a reader to use to work through their fears. Each page features the name and definition of a fear, on which Little Mouse appears to have written about his own feelings, making notes and sticking in pictures, cuttings, a map and even some feathers. The twist on the last page reassures readers that everyone is frightened of something and leaves us with hope that we can all be brave.

There are many elements which make this a brilliant book to have in the classroom:

  • it is visually very engaging, with a mixed media style of illustration
  • it is funny without making light of any of the fears it describes
  • it provides triggers for many styles and genres of writing
  • it provides an accessible platform for discussing fears and being brave

This is a great book to get children talking about their feelings and fears. Little Mouse is very relatable as a small animal surrounded by everyday scary things. Each page features a different fear and Little Mouse’s feelings about it. His thoughts are illustrated through a range of illustrations and added elements and he often features on the pages too. There is lots of scope for inference and for empathy.

This is a book which could be used at different levels. Younger children can appreciate the images and Little Mouse’s notes which are simply but evocatively written. Older children will enjoy the higher-level reading provided in the adverts, map and newspaper cuttings. There are examples of different text types in the ‘cuttings’ and jokes and wordplay hidden within them (the newspaper cutting features an article about the wife of a farmer being terrorised by three mice).

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is great for stimulating shorter and longer pieces of writing. Children can write descriptively about scary situations, persuasively to help Little Mouse see that his fears are not as bad as he thinks, or write instructions for how to deal with daunting situations. Children could write stories about how Little Mouse overcomes a fear or write in the role of the mouse, using inference and prediction skills. Children could research and write a report on a fear, write an explanation of what happens physically when we feel fear and why this is (the map is great for this), or children could write a recount of why Little Mouse became so frightened in the first place.

  • Category: Something a bit different
  • Age: Years 1, 2, 3, 4 (KS1 and lower KS2)
  • Topics: feelings and fears; building resilience; empathy
  • Teaching areas: recounts; explanations; prediction and inference; instructions; reports; descriptive writing; characterisation; letter writing

English plans that use 'Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears'

For teaching plans and resources using this book, see Hamilton's Year 4 English block, ‘Recounts: Little Mouse’s Book of Fears'. The book is used in conjunction with After the Fall (Dan Santat) and The Dark (Lemony Snicket) to inspire recount writing about early childhood fears, write newspaper reports and to write an imaginary ‘narrow escape’ recount story. Grammar includes apostrophes for possession and fronted adverbials.

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