Cicada by Shaun Tan

Another brilliant book by Shaun Tan – Cicada is a book with subtext for both older children and adults but with illustrations that young children will enjoy too.

Cicada is a story about a cicada who works in a dreary office building, performing the same task day in, day out with no recognition or appreciation of the effort he puts in.

Cicada is treated poorly, ignored by colleagues and constantly calls out ‘Tok, Tok, Tok”, which could represent the noise of a keyboard, the clicking of a clock, the noise cicadas make or perhaps even the monotone thoughts of the office workers. Whatever you take it to mean, it shows the bland existence of humans and this cicada.

But all this changes on Cicada’s last day of work, where instead of having a farewell party or a thank you handshake he simply packs up his desk and ascends the stairs.

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

The stairs to something much more wonderful, so much so that the cicada wonders why the humans haven’t worked it out yet.

I won’t spoil it here – you’ll have to read it yourself!

So what else can you do with this book at home and at school?

Younger readers.

Younger readers may not see the subtext of this book but other issues can be explored such as:

– Explore the life cycle of a cicada and the time the spent underground compared to the time above.

– Think about what you would do if you had to live in a world without colour, creativity or fun. How would you feel?

– What does ‘Tok, Tok, Tok” mean to you? What sound would you make if you worked in a world like this?

Why do the humans think he is worse than them? Why do they ignore him or make him go to the toilet out of the building (this can be linked to some women’s prejudice issues of the past).

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

– What is the importance of getting out into the world around us and exploring more than just making money?

– Why do we need nature? Why do we need to explore?

– Is money really that important? (Big idea – take time to discuss this)

And here are some more in depth ideas if you wish to study this book for older readers:

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

Join my facebook group – growing globally and socially conscious children to swap ideas to help young children tackle the big issues!

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Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes

What have you decided to do today after breakfast?

Build a rocketship?

Explore outer space?

That’s just what our adventurous character – Scout – has decided to do!

Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes is a fun and imaginative picture book that takes us on a journey with young Scout who is described as an inventor, explorer and a dreamer.

Scout has built a rocket ship and today is the day they are going to zoom off and explore the solar system.

Scout and the trusty rocket ship – Beattie – visit the planets and their personalities. Each planet is represented by a different animal and I found as I read this book out loud to young children that it really helped them to connect with these space beings which are so far away and can at times be difficult to understand.

Each planet smiles at Scout and Beattie, welcoming them to their zone and showing off just how big, small or coloured they are.

We even get to visit Pluto – who is so small and far away (and not a real planet by scientific standards) but very very helpful!

Sha’an’s illustrations are delicate and colourful. Each planet is really brought to life through the idea of an animal and the adventure Scout embarks on does not seem daunting when there are friendly creatures and a caring rocket ship along the way.

Zoom is a simple story but told so well. Children are engaged right from the start with the simplicity of always starting a day with a good breakfast. I also loved that the main character Scout was not outlined as being a boy or a girl so that both boys and girls can identify with being a scientist, adventurer and thinker!

What can you do with this book?

 –  Imagine what animals you think the different planets are like. Draw what they look like and how they act, using information about the planets to support the ideas.

– Design what you think earth would look like if you were in outer space.

– Start a diary with the words – But we all need our breakfast…..

-This picture book is full of adjectives – find as many as you can. Can any of these adjectives be replaced with a new adjective?

-CRASH, GATHUNK and FIZZ are all onomatopoeia words, can you think of some more that you might hear in outer space?