Monday, 29 September 2014

Nick Bland's New Release: Monster Chef (terrific for Halloween and not so scary) with freebies

Well it's official!  I am in love with picture books and one of my favourite authors is fellow Aussie, Nick Bland.
You can hardly imagine my delight when I found his newly published picture book, Monster Chef and I began making connections straight away to Halloween and his other picture book, A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.

I love Nick Bland's writing style with his rollicking use of rhyme and imagery.  

Marcel is the Monster Chef and he has a terrible problem - he wasn't very scary!!!  But, what he did like to do was cook and he makes earthworm spaghetti, hot cactus pies, smelly-sock soup and a cockroach surprise!  Can you imagine the fun the children would have making up imaginary recipes for these gastronomical delights? 

As with all good narratives, this one has the problem of Marcel not being scary even though he is a monster and the solution is actually very clever and creative!  

This is a terrific picture book for Halloween as it isn't scary; it's actually very funny.  Now for some freebies for both books:

Free teaching notes for Monster Chef can be found here and here.  

Interestingly, in my search for goodies for both of these picture books, I stumbled across another book with the same title, "Monster Chef" (different author) so a compare and contrast could be used, however the second title is part of the Vampire School series by Peter Bentley (You can read about it here). I haven't read any titles from this series, but if you have please leave a comment below this post.

You can read about A Monster Wrote Me a Letter here, with excerpts from the book to give you a flavour of the author's engaging style and there are also free teaching notes online. These shared reading notes were freely available on the internet for A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.

Other ideas and activities for using Nick Bland's picture books have been pinned on my pinterest board here.
We don't really celebrate Halloween in schools over here in Australia, so that's why I am keen on books that aren't too scary and I love companion texts and text sets.  

Last year I reviewed Creepy Carrots and provided a freebie for that. You can read that blog post here.  It's another good picture book for Halloween which isn't too scary.  

In fact, all of these picture books could be used to discuss fears and how sometimes our fears can be imagined.  Scaredy Squirrel is also great for this, as is the Children's Book Council Award short-listed picture book Parachute.  You can read my blog post about those two picture books here and pick up another freebie here.

Teachers have told me that their students make text-to-self connections quite easily, but need extra support with making text-to-world or text-to-text connections.  That's why I love it when we can find texts to compare and contrast and explicitly model making connections and venn diagrams are an easy way to do this.

Click on the image below to pick up a venn diagram to compare Nick Bland's two titles: Monster Chef and A Monster Wrote Me a Letter:

Please follow my blog (using the links in the right hand comment) to accept this giveaway.

Please leave a comment below if you can think of any other titles that could be used in a similar way.


  1. Thank you for finding such great texts to use in class that follow common threads! Even better, you provide ready-to-use resources! Brilliant!

  2. You are more than welcome Joy :) I just love Nick Bland's books :)