Book of the Month: Oof Makes an Ouch!
Oof and Pib live happily in their ancient village where nobody knows any words apart from their own names. One day, an accident causes Oof to invent a new word – “OUCH!” – causing quite a stir. Everyone wants to try out the new word, and Oof is heralded as a genius. Pib, jealous of all the praise and attention his friend is getting, takes out his frustration by destroying Oof’s latest invention. In trying to make it up to his friend, he too has to invent a new word – “Sorry.”
Oof Makes an Ouch!, written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie and published by Templar Books, is a stunning picture book with simple text and beautiful, funny illustrations that will captivate young readers. Beedie uses a gorgeous colour pallet to bring the setting to life. The illustrations are rich with lively details and visual jokes that reward careful observation and repeat reading.
Beedie creates lots of comedy by portraying the adults as completely useless, having them behave ridiculously throughout. When the other villagers try out the word “Ouch!”, they do it while intentionally hurting themselves in hilarious ways. One sits on a cactus, one runs headfirst into a tree, while another rubs a hedgehog on his armpit – “OUCH!”
Pib’s jealousy, frustration and subsequent apology are also beautifully depicted. The idea of feeling angry and not having the right words to express it will be familiar to many children, and Beedie captures this beautifully.
Oof Makes An Ouch! could be a great way to introduce the concept of inference to young children. In the many scenes in which the characters are communicating with each other using only their names, children could discuss what they think the characters are really trying to say – and how they know. These could be written in speech bubbles to replace the ones in the story – although you might want to steer clear of the page where Pib uses a newly invented tool to scratch his own bottom!
These inferences could lead into activities that explore reading with expression – and explore how reading the character names with different inflections could change their meaning. Children could be challenged to have a conversation (or complete an activity) with a partner using only their own names to try to get their ideas across.
All of the character’s names are decodable CVC words, so could be used for decoding practice in phonics lessons. Reluctant readers could be encouraged to join in with reading the story aloud, by decoding and reading the character names. Children could invent their own characters and use phonics resources to make up their own CVC name.
This story could form the basis of PSHE lessons, thinking about how to manage feelings of jealousy, empathy for the way others are feeling and conflict resolution. Parts of the story could be role-played with different outcomes, exploring questions such as ‘What could Pib have done instead?’ or ‘How could Oof have been a better friend?’ Children could be encouraged to think about times when they have fallen out with a friend, and how it felt to say sorry and make up again.
Last of all, the book could be a great introduction to a history topic about the Stone Age – and particularly the invention of the wheel. Children could generate and explore questions about how the villagers’ lives could change using Oof’s new invention, as well as thinking about the history of communication and the development of language.
Duncan Beedie and Oof Makes an Ouch! will be featured in Pop Up Festival – Autumn 2021.