You may not have “new” neighbors right now. But if, like me, you’re staying at home most of the time, you may be noticing your neighbors more, and maybe you’re even annoyed by some of their behaviors. If so, this is just the Perfect Picture Book for you!
Title: The New Neighbours
Written & Illustrated By: Sarah McIntyre
Publisher/Date: David Fickling Books/2018 (republished in the US as The New Neighbors, Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2019)
Suitable for Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: preconceptions, prejudice, neighbors, gossip
High on the roof, above the city, Mr. Pigeon had the latest news.
“You’ve got rats in your flats!” he burbled with glee. “They moved in today on the ground floor.”
Brief Synopsis: When rats move into an apartment building, the other animals react with dread, fearing the worst from these rodents.
Links to Resources:
- Has someone new moved into your neighborhood recently? Draw a picture to help them feel welcome;
- Think of 3 things that make your neighborhood special. Why are these places or activities important to you?
- The new neighbors in this story are rats. Learn about them here. Why do you think McIntyre features rats in this story?
- Download activity sheets from McIntyre’s website.
Why I Like this Book:
With hopping, and trotting, and tottering, a variety of animal neighbors rush to the ground floor of their apartment building to meet their new neighbors: rats. And as each neighbor joins the group, they share preconceptions about these new neighbors.
Using traits that kids will understand and relate to, the animal residents reveal that rats are messy, smelly, steal food, and more. With short sentences and loads of active verbs, the misconceptions and mayhem grow until everyone tumbles to the rats’ front door. I won’t spoil the ending, but as you can imagine, the reality does not match the escalating fear.
I think kids will enjoy this fast-paced and humorous story with its bright color palette and expressive animal characters. The New Neighbours also is a great introduction to a classroom or family discussion about prejudice, gossiping, and what it means to be a good neighbor or friend.
A Note about Craft:
McIntyre sets her story in an apartment building, where new neighbors, with new preconceptions, join a parade-like group that grows floor by floor. I think using this cumulative format helps build tension leading up to the encounter with the rats. I also love the expressive and kid-friendly language that quickens the pace and makes the text especially appropriate for younger children.
Discover more of McIntyre’s work at her website.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!