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The Diddle that Dummed

The Diddle That Dummed

Published: 25 Jun 2020

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 5+

By Kes Gray

Illustrated by Fred Blunt

Published by Hachette Children's Group

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A laugh-out-loud musical story full of hilarious word play and silliness from the author of Oi Frog!

Reviewed by Nikki Gamble

The Diddle That Dummed is a simple tale, but one that many children will find hilarious.

Flinty Bo Diddle is writing a new tune to play on his fiddle. The notes are perfect ‘diddles’ until he reaches the end of the paper. The last note is a rogue ‘dum’. Flinty tries everything to coax the dum to change into a diddle with increasing exasperation. Nothing works. Eventually, the little notes need to go to the toilet where they treat Flinty to a perfect piddle…

Fred Blunt’s illustrations are brilliantly expressive. He is exceptionally good at doing grumpy and Flinty is suitable crotchety with his expressive eyebrows and mouth. (How can a single pencil point-sized mouth and a black scribble convey so much?) He reminded me of the best Loony Tunes adversaries, Colonel Shuffle and Yosemite Sam.

Be warned, there are a lot of diddles to be read aloud, but this can work well in a class if you divide the children into five groups, each group reading a line of ‘diddles. The fifth group will need to remember to end on a dum -, or the whole class could join in to read the final note in unison. Vary the reading by asking each group to read their notes in a specific way, e.g. happy, sad, grumpy.

The design is very well-conceived, allowing space for the type and layout to amplify the meaning. A combination of block colour backgrounds and white space help to convey tone and direct attention to what’s important. Smart design and humourous appeal broaden the potential readership as it can be simultaneously enjoyed by both infant and junior readers.

Laughing together is therapy and this could become a frequently requested read-aloud for children and teachers to enjoy together.

Nikki Gamble
Formerly a teacher (secondary and primary) and university lecturer, with over 35 years’ experience, Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature now in its fourth edition (Sage, 2019) Co-author of Guiding Readers, winner of the UKLA Academic Book award (UCL, 2016). Nikki runs workshops for teachers, librarians, students and researchers on different aspects of children's literature, an online summer school and an Audience with events, celebrating writers and illustrators who have made an exceptional contribution to the world of children's books. Further information