The Scallywags by David Melling

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The Scallywags by David Melling

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A delightful and refreshing story where important ideas are deftly handled. Children will love the story line, where the wolves try to improve their manners and adults will love the verbal and visual puns which litter every page. Highly recommended by the Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: January 2008
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340884065

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The Scallywags - Crumbs, Grub, Hairball, Scribble, Knits, Yoyo, Earwax, Brooz and Jumble - are wolves. They're also something of a problem. All the other animals are ready, dressed in their best and waiting for the Scallywags to arrive for the group photograph. When they do arrive it's with a crash, bang and a wallop as they knock over the makeshift stage.

The next morning the animals gather to see the photograph over breakfast. Just look at all the injuries the wolves caused when they blundered in! They're still so cross that they decided not to invite the Scallywags to eat breakfast with them. Meanwhile, the Scallywags are lounging around at home. It's a somewhat ramshackle affair and if you look carefully you'll find that there's an outside toilet - literally. But when the smell of breakfast wafts their way they're only too keen to find the source of the delicious smells.

When they arrive the other animals have eaten all the food - and gone. Breakfast without the wolves had been so pleasant that they decided not to invite them anymore - or to playtimes or storytimes. Soon the Scallywags are isolated and life just isn't fun any more. Slowly it dawns on them that they have to learn some manners. They spy on all the other animals until they know exactly what they have to do. And then they practice. Perhaps they don't always get it quite right but it certainly isn't for want of trying.

Eventually the Scallywags decide to go and meet the other animals and let them see how much fun they are. They've changed so much that the other animals don't recognise them and they're only too pleased to invite this group of fourteen well-dressed and tidy visitors to stay for something to eat. It's when the soup arrives that the trouble starts...

Well, I'm not going to tell you what happens. You'll have to read the book for yourself to find out, but there are several very thought-provoking points in this book, delivered in a way that's laugh-out-loud funny. There's consideration for others. Bad manners and thoughtlessness do impact on other people and eventually there will be consequences. It's rewarding too to realise that however bad things are it's still possible to make improvements. There's a nudge about tolerating other people's shortcomings and a gentle reminder about being true to yourself. They're all big points but delivered in a very funny and refreshing storyline.

Some of the verbal puns will be lost on the three-to-five age group at which the book is aimed but they'll delight any adults sharing the book, which is a real pleasure to read aloud. The illustrations are extraordinary, adding to the text rather than simply reflecting it. It's possible to spend quite a lot of time just studying each page - look at the splint on Moose's broken antler or the car chassis back at the Scallywags' house. My favourite was the Moose constructed out of odds and ends when the wolves had no one to play with. The book is simply delightful and is highly recommended by everyone here at Bookbag Towers.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of The Scallywags Blow Their Top.

For another story where the moral is delivered with a light touch, we can recommend So Few Of Me by Peter H Reynolds.

Booklists.jpg The Scallywags by David Melling is in the Top Ten Picture Books of 2008.

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Buy The Scallywags by David Melling at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Scallywags by David Melling at


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