I was so excited to find a copy of Funnybones in a charity shop in the summer, it was one of the books that I had in the book corner of my first classroom and was very popular among the four and five year olds in my class. My daughter and I have read it several times since we bought it, it’s a great book for a beginner reader and a fun read for Halloween.
The Story: Three skeletons, a big one, a little one and a dog, live in a dark cellar. One night they decide to take their dog for a walk and frighten somebody. As the dog is chasing a stick he bumps into a tree and falls apart so the big skeleton and the little skeleton put him back together before visiting their skeleton friends at the zoo. They still haven’t frightened anybody so the little skeleton suggests that they frighten each other.
Funnybones begins in a dark cellar in a dark house where we are introduced to the three skeletons through a very atmospheric, repetitive text. The story describes their walk and takes them to the park and the zoo, both familiar situations for young children. The text is easy to read and the repetition is great for a beginner reader (the story goes full circle with the repetition on the final page of the story mirroring the first page). The illustrations are colourful on a dark background and have a comic style feel to them with speech bubbles to move the story along. Much of the humour comes from the illustrations. We love the illustrations where the skeletons are putting the dog back together, not only do they put him back incorrectly but when he says ‘Woof’ it comes out all muddled too!
Funnybones is a fun book to introduce children to the concept of having a skeleton and could be used in a My Body classroom topic. Some bone names are introduced in the story when the skeletons sing some of the lyrics of The Skeleton Dance as they put the dog back together. We put our own moveable skeleton puppet together using this Preschool Activities template, we’re still looking for a glow in the dark pen to colour it with so we can hang it in our window for Halloween.
The language used in Funnybones can also be incorporated into a literacy lesson. The word ‘dark’ is frequently used in the text and a fun activity is for children to rewrite the first page using their own adjectives then read it aloud to the class. Children could also contribute to a class story or book where they give their ideas on how the skeletons can scare each other and write them using the same sentence structure as in the story – ‘They hid round corners and frightened each other.’
There are several more Funnybones stories that we haven’t read. Have you read any of the other Funnybones stories? Which would you recommend?
Age Range: 3 to 7
Author: Allan Ahlberg / Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg