Side by Side by Rachel Bright and Debi Gliori
Little Mouseling lives deep in the heart of Wintermouse Wood with her many siblings, who usually leave her behind because she is too small. She therefore decides to search for a best friend who will stay by her side. After a few setbacks, she eventually meets a “tinyful, weenious, little black vole” who offers to befriend Little Mouseling and sings a song with her. They spend time with each other until they soon become like “peas in a pod” – forever side by side!
‘Side by Side’ is a heart-warming rhyming picture book about the friendship between a mouse and a vole. The author illustrates how two completely different animals, who live very different lives, can have so much in common and value each other’s company equally. It portrays a message that regardless of who you are and what you look like, there is friend out there for everyone, who will enjoy your company as much as you enjoy theirs. Using rhyming couplets (aabb) throughout, the story flows brilliantly which allows for easy reading and listening. This is what makes the book so special, as it binds the values of friendship in a wonderful piece of writing with excellent illustrations.
The illustrations throughout the book are super for setting the scene of each page and how Little Mouseling is feeling.The pictures also provide an opportunity for added child engagement, as the vole is appears on every page, even when we are not yet introduced to him. The question is, can you find him??
A lovely book for children of all ages at primary, I would recommend this book to late KS1 and earlier KS2 teachers as a resource in the classroom, but would encourage all to read it during story-time! I say this mainly because even my 15-year-old brother genuinely wanted me to keep reading it to him!!
- Write a postcard as Little Mouseling to the rest of the family, describing what you have been up to, who you have met and how you feel!
- Discuss how you think Little Mouseling feels at the beginning of the story, and why.
- Discuss how you think Little Mouseling feels when she meets the vole, and why.
- Write a creative story on an adventure the mouse and vole could go on – as a sequal to ‘Side by Side’.
- Retell the story from the vole’s perspective -what was he doing before he noticed Little Mouseling and how long had the vole secretly been with her?
- Where is the voles family? Does he have any family?
- What do you like to do with a close friend? Describe these activities and how it makes you feel!
- Discuss what makes a good friend and the value of friendship!
- Rhyming words – look through the book and find the words that rhyme. Can you think of any new ones?
- Create a short story/poem about your friendships, using the same rhyming scheme as the book.
- Cross-curricular link into habitats, particularly woodlands.
“Two wonderful ones had found a forever, and forever is great when you spend it together.”
By Luke Kay