Children wonder about all sorts of things. Why is the sky blue, and not pink? What do angels eat? Australian writer, Janeen Brian, has cleverly tapped into that natural curiosity in Where does Thursday go? a Margaret Hamilton (Scholastic) picture book, first published in 2001, and winner of a CBCA Honour Award in 2002.
Splodge is a bear who has had a wonderful birthday. Like most of us, he wishes his special Thursday would last forever. That makes him wonder: where does Thursday go before Friday comes? He and his friend Humbug, a sea-bird, set off in the night to find it.
This delightful story has so much kid appeal. Children will love the sounds in the landscape like the "oogle gurgle" of the river; wondering what Thursday looks like; following Humbug and Splodge on their quest; and joining in with the refrain: "'Is that you, Thursday,' called Splodge. But there was no reply."
Stephen Michael King's illustrations really set the mood for the book, with soft colours that show a safe, gentle nighttime landscape. My favourite page has Splodge sitting on the front steps of his wonderful lamp-lit tree house, accompanied by Humbug, wearing aviator head-gear and goggles.
I enjoyed the lyrical descriptions: "A streak of shining silver swam past with a flick of its tail" and the onomatopoeia in sentences like "Swish, Swish, the waves sighed as they drew back into the ocean." It's important to share quality literature with kids, so we can help them celebrate the richness and diversity of our English language.
Where does Thursday go? is a lovely story to read aloud. Emergent readers will have fun reading the refrain while you read the rest of the story. As a follow-up activity, ask children to think about a time when they and a friend searched for something special, or describe a favourite birthday party. Splodge's tree house might spark them to draw their own tree house, or better still, go outside and create one of their own.
(Book Chook Note: In Australia, we call play houses "cubbies". Making cubbies was the dominant theme of my childhood. We made highly frowned upon ones under the bed with candles and cookies, but our favourites were out in the bush using tree trunks, sticks and old carpet to protect us from marauding pirates or Sheriff's men. Do your kids build cubbies? Do you remember a favourite from your childhood?)