“Only a Show”, by Anne Fine is an excellent read for the Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 (5 – 9 age group). It is the story of a young girl called Anna who is afraid to present something to the rest of her class. The book looks at Anna’s feelings and how she manages to cope when the big day finally arrives. The book is rich in material that can be used by teachers for their pupils.
Quite simply it is an entertaining book that can be used with simple question and answers about the book, either orally for younger children or for older children in a written comprehension activity. Anna can be “hot seated” and asked how she feels before giving her talk and after. The rest of the class can ask Anna a question. Younger children might like to sequence the events of the story either in pictures or words in the correct order.
Just as Anna is instructed to give a performance this is a brilliant starting point for a teacher who wishes to develop their class’s speaking and listening performance. When the children hear about Anna’s experiences: her nerves; her uncertainty about choosing a topic and the final outcome the children can share their thoughts about presenting something in front of their peers.
Anne Fine is a prolific author and the children could compare her other stories to Only a Show, or find out information about her life. This could be linked in with ICT whereby the children could use computers to find out about her and log onto her website.
In small groups the children can role play the story in the book. This might be in front of an audience or for younger children an area where they can play together acting out the events.
There is a lot of emotional tension running throughout the book. During circle time, the children can explore themes such as the things that make them nervous, activities they enjoy doing, or the times they have felt worried about something. This could help the class to cope with any new situations they are facing at home or in school.
This book ties in with Design and Technology and could be linked to the puppet making aspect of the subject. The children could design and make their own puppets that they could later test and use. The illustrations in the book are colourful and eye-catching. In small groups the children could choose their favourite part of the story and paint a picture or even make their books.
In conclusion, only a Show is an entertaining read that can be used as a stand-alone book or compared to other books with the same theme or for an author study.
Popular author, Anne Fine has written this entertaining book for young readers (age range 5-9) who have moved on from picture books and want to read short chapter books.