It’s been a fair old while since I wrote about Spikey the Hedgehog. Bam Bam was much smaller then, but had already discovered the joy that is held in books. We still go back to Spikey, from time to time. One of an ever-growing selection of books that Bam Bam enjoys reading before bed, or devouring by the dozen during her literary binges during the day.
Now the next book in the series by Tereza Hepburn has been released. Spikey and the Caterpillar Sausage Cat is another great story based around Spikey’s adventures in his home of Regent Park. I’m not going to ruin the secrets of the Caterpillar Sausage Cat for you. It’s a lot of fun discovering it for yourself. But there is a baby robin called Reginald and a Cockney worm called Dave (my personal favourite.) They are Spikey’s new friends for this escapade. The characterisation is the nicest part of the book. Even though Bam Bam is still only three, I think that she got through the book in far fewer sessions than I expected because she liked the creatures involved from the start and really empathised with them.
The book is a lovely way for children to learn a little bit more about the natural world around them. It has beautiful, whimsical illustrations by Mike Phillips. But of particular note are the two sets of questions on each page. At the bottom left are questions for younger readers. Lower right, a set for older children. They help to keep the kids engaged with the story and really listen. The prompts ask them to interrogate what’s happening. It’s really lovely that the readers are encouraged to think more deeply about the feelings, inspiration and motivations of the characters. Big stuff, especially for a three year old, but they really work! Really subtle support with emotional development.
Supporting parents who lack reading confidence
These questions are brilliant if you are not particularly sure how to engage with your kid when reading. They give really helpful cues for questions and lines of conversation you can take with your child. I think this is something that could be much more widely employed in children’s books. I know that reading and reading with kids especially doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
That said, this is not a simple book. It’s quite dense, with some relatively complicated language and idiom use. It took us a couple of sessions to get all the way through. I could tell that Bam Bam was taking in a huge amount from it. There were new words and constructions as well as new ideas. As with the original book, I’m sure that we will be coming back to this read time and time again. I’m also sure our relationship with the story will continue to evolve as we do.