It was my favourite book as a child but as I headed into adulthood and into the classroom, I realised that Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley is truly the best kids book ever! I am currently reading it for the fifth time to a class of children and, as in previous years, they actually cheer every time I say we will read some and groan when I say it's time to stop, even when it's playtime or the end of the day! At playtime today, my class were discussing it and children I taught two years ago said it was the "best book ever". The boys love it. The girls love it. I love it.
The plot revolves around a mysterious character called Scribbleboy who, once upon a time, had turned Bailey's new, grey, concrete neighbourhood into a colourful, vibrant environment through his graffiti, known as Scribbles. When Bailey is invited along to the Scribbleboy fan club, his life becomes a rollercoaster of people, emotions, mysteries and Scribbles. He meets the local cool kid, the ice-cream maker, disco queen Ma Glamrock, spitting bloke Pa Punkrock and many other fantastic characters including...Scribbleboy himself!
Without giving too much away about the plot, here are 10 reasons why it's the best kids' book ever:
1) It contains classic cultural references which some children may never have heard of. They all provide interesting discussion points as we encounter each one. E.g. Top Gun, VHS, fan clubs, Banksy military language.
2) Mysteries and cliffhangers keep you hooked every step of the way - who IS Scribbleboy?!
3) Examples of Girl Power & Boy Power fill the plot.
4) Real-life issues such as mental health, divorce, unemployment and disability are tackled head on in a wholly appropriate and accessible way for Key Stage 2 children.
5) The cartoons by Chris Riddell are amazing. We particularly like the first illustration of a Scribble - my class have requested to have some chilled colouring time to bring the pen drawings to life.
6) It is written in a really cool style. Philip Ridley breaks all the conventions we've learned in English lessons and he's written a great book to read aloud - different voices are essential in this. E.g. Unusual prose, audience participation opportunities, rapping, made up words.
7) It's a hugely inspirational story containing normal kids who relish an opportunity.
8) There is an amazing selection of characters in this book - someone for everyone to relate to and a few bizarre ones to love.
9) The Scribbleboy Rap towards the end of the book is an unforgettable opportunity for some performance poetry. We recorded our version last year - you can watch it here.
10) It has a chase. Every great story - whether shared in prose or video - contains a chase. Fact!
If you haven't already read Scribbleboy and fallen under Philip Ridley's spell, make sure you do soon!