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Splat! Paperback – 6 Apr 2017
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This brilliantly playful book that experiments with the physical boundaries of the book as an object, encouraging interaction and imagination, seems to be a direct extension of Jon's personality. (Oliver Jeffers)
When you turn the pages things go SPLAT!
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In fact this is like the Chuckle Brothers or more so the Sooty or Gigglebiz approach to literature; onomatopoeic and messy.
The story begins with a grinch-like hairy blob being splatted with eyes and a mouth to anthropomorphise it, my 4 year old has dubbed him 'Splatterman' as there was no name given in the book. Splatterman over successive pages take custard pies, sandwiches, and cartoon disguises to the face and said splatting is feasted on by beetles and birds before it is washed and whooshed off before *SPOILERS* everyone gets splatted with ice creams. Poor Splatterman as my daughter says.
Deliciously silly? yes, funny? yes, educational? Oh yes.
Burgerman's book is a treasure trove for early learning in both literacy and investigation/scientific method.
There is rich language opportunities in Splat! the outcome of each turning of the page is accompanied by a onamatopoiec word; splat, squish, squash, splash, whoosh. This offers opportunities to discuss onamatopoiea and 'noises' with younger children and even learning opportunities to come up with more or carry out experiments to create/act out our own 'noise words' to see if they are onamatopoiec.
They are also very simplistic phonics-wise once the 'qu' digraph has been introduced giving opportunities for the beginning reader to decide and blend the words and maybe paired with an older/adult reader to read the other side of the page.
From a scientific point of view it offers much more than counting the insects and birds but instead early interaction with the scientific method, predicting what will happen on the next page and cause and effect as the sandwich attracts insects and the insects attract birds which can be turned into real experiments and discussion about life cycles and food chains. Encouraging children to make predictions helps with their understanding of stories as well as cause and effect.
Early years providers may see a theme week out of this book with opportunities for literacy, science and even messy play through this book giving it a well earned place in Young Children's bookshelves.
Overall, a very silly book has plenty of concrete learning opportunities, or you can forget all that and just have a good laugh at poor Splatterman.
‘‘SPLAT!’’ is as much a statement of intent as it is a book. On one page we have our hero (or should we call that victim), on the other page something else. What happens when you splat the two pages together? Perhaps our hero will receive an eyes and mouth, or perhaps they will become covered in cream or bugs. It is up to you to help the creature out as they make their way through a very messy book.
Some books rely on their story, others their images. There is an even rarer group that rely on something else – their idea. ‘‘SPLAT!’’ is an ideas book that takes one simple concept and runs with it. After a child has started to enjoy reading, you can introduce ideas that subvert the traditional narrative; there are seemingly more books that reinvent the classic fairy tales than retell them. This book asks a child to imagine that the pages are alive and that one effects the other. This type of concept tickles a child’s imagination, especially when some of the items are so silly.
Rather than just stick to splatting custard pies over and over again, Jon Burgerman has plenty of fun by adding sprinkles, or even bugs. Burgerman has a distinctive style that is in keeping with is doodle art. This means that the book is simple and very colourful, but also perhaps a little naïve. The essence of doodling is to be quick, so the images look like they could have been done speedily. The children’s book market is full of detailed illustrations that have been poured over by an artist for weeks, so seeing something as simple as ‘‘SPLAT!’’ is different, but you feel a little short-changed.
With few words in ‘‘SPLAT!’’ this is not a book that is going to help develop your child’s reading skills, but it may just help their imagination. If they can develop their brain muscle to understand that not everything is as it seems, they will see there is a lot more to life. This is a book that is all about fun and fun is exactly what you will have.
I'm not sure about the longevity of the book. Older children will like reading it through a few times, but once the surprise has been revealed there isn't a huge amount left for them. Though of course, one should never underestimate the comedic power of somebody having things thrown in their face! It would be great in a pre-school or reception class setting, as I imagine collective anticipation would be great.
I'm not sure SPLAT! is destined to become a modern classic, but it is a great fun, slightly surreal and very engaging picture book.
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