Line Up, Please! By Tomoko Ohmura

This picture book is by the award-winning author and illustrator Tomoko Ohmura, from Tokyo, Japan. It is published by Gecko Press. Gecko Press specialise is English versions of curiously good books from around the world by well established authors and illustrators. These books have a strong track record in their own and other countries, and are winners of international awards.

Line Up, Please!

Is it a counting book? Is it a book about the animal kingdom? Is it a book simply to make you laugh and smile? No, it’s not ONE of those things; it’s all of those things, and more.

Bold, eye-catching illustrations stand proud against the bright blue background of the cover. It shouts to be opened and read.

What are these animals lining up for? That skunk just let one go, that poor, unfortunate armadillo. I’m concerned for that zebra caught between a lion and a tiger, it seems very nervous and I don’t blame it, those cats look hungry. Uh oh! Is that rhino going to charge?

Each turn of the page keeps you guessing as to what these animals are lining up for; what calamity is going to happen. I won’t spoil the punch line, but it’s very funny and very clever, and the surprise climax unfolds in a gorgeous gatefold for maximum impact.

It made me laugh out loud; my wife gave me a sideways glance. I told her to read it, she had the same reaction. That’s the response of two 30+ year olds, so I can only imagine how much children will enjoy it.

I like the 220 x 220mm square shape of the book, it makes it look like a present that needs to be unwrapped; when you do there are bold, beautiful illustrations to feast your eyes upon and they provide plenty of opportunities for you to pause and study the way they interact with each other.

As a key stage 2 primary school teacher and a parent, my mind is filling up with ways to use the book at home as well as the classroom. There are lots of animals to count, learn and identify.

In class it would be a great resource to teach children about food chains & food webs. Children could create their own food webs based on the animals in the book.

A fantastic stimulus for writing, children could discuss alternative endings. They could write dialogue between the animals in the queue. They could change the animals in the line and create other possibilities for danger and witty interactions.

It could be used as a starter for a lesson; children could order the animals in different ways, alphabetically, odd and even, multiples of 3 etc… You could get the children to group them in different ways based on their physical features.

Anyway I’m just thinking out loud now.

In conclusion, I think this book is heaps of fun; great to read with small and big children alike. it’s educational and the illustrations are lovely.

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