The Misadventures of Frederick
About the author
Ben Manley is a performer, writer and designer, known for his humorous take on life. The Misadventures of Frederick is his first picture book, and was a Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week. Like Frederick, Ben has broken a bone, but luckily it was his brother’s.
About the illustrator
Popular and prolific children’s author and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark is well known for her high-quality work. She has illustrated books by Roald Dahl, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake. She created the much loved ‘Blue Kangaroo’ series of picturebooks, as well as a number of stand-alone titles and the ‘Plumdog’ series.
About the book
Told through notes and letters, The Misadventures of Frederick tells the story of a friendship between the adventurous Emily and serial worrier Frederick. She wants him to come and play outside, with her, but outside can be so… dangerous! The contrasting voices of the characters, the use of challenging language, the humour and the wonderful illustrations make this story a fabulous starting point for your Reading Gladiators adventure.
Note: This book does not have numbered pages. We have numbered the title page with the picture of Frederick’s mansion as page 1.
Week 1: Title pages and cover to page 9
Week 2: Read together pages 10-17
Week 3: Read together 18-26
Week 4: Read together 26- end
Let’s start in an unusual way, by looking at the title pages first! Open up the book, and you will find a page that displays the title, author, illustrator and publisher. Can you find the date that this book was first published? Is it an old book or a new book?
Title pages give us a lot of information about who wrote and produced the book, so try and find the author and illustrator’s names, as well as the title, of course. You might find the publisher too. The title page can also give clues as to what is in the book.
- What can you see on page 1?
- Have you visited anywhere like this?
- What would you do if you lived here?
- Who do you think lives here?
Now turn to the cover. We have gone inside the house which was shown on the title page.
- What can you see?
- Does the back cover give you any more clues?
Emma Chichester Clark
Emma is a well-known author and illustrator. Have you read any other books by her? She wrote the Blue Kangaroo books. Perhaps you have a copy in the library. Have a look and see if you can tell that the same artist illustrated both books.
- Do you think artists have a unique style, unlike anyone else’s?
- Which illustrators do you really like? Are they similar or different to Emma?
Emma keeps an illustrated blog on her website (see resources)
Letters and invitations
Read aloud from page 4 to 9. Give each character a distinct voice, which the children will be able to hear in their heads when they read alone.
- Why has Emily written to Frederick?
- Have you ever sent someone a letter to invite them somewhere?
- How did they get your invitation?
- Why has Emily sent her note as a plane?
Frederick replies to Emily’s invitation.
- Why can’t he go out?
- Do you think he wants to go out? Why do you think this?
Keeping a word-hoard
Frederick likes to use long words in his letters. Here is a fabulous long word, that means someone who uses long words: sesquipedalian. There might be some words which Frederick uses that you don’t know the meaning of, so why not build up a word-hoard? Find a chest, a box or some other fancy receptacle to keep your word-hoard in. Whenever you meet a new word, write it on a piece of paper, along with a definition. Place the paper in the word-hoard. Open your word-hoard regularly and revisit the words. Can you remember the definition?
The woodlark’s melody
Have you put either of these words in your word-hoard? If you would like to hear a woodlark’s melody or song, you can find it in the website resources.
Read pages 10 to 17 together, or allow the children time to read.
Emma Chichester Clark has portrayed some of the birds very accurately. Can you use her illustrations to identify which type of bird is which? The RSPB have a great bird identifier (see resources). You can select the colours of feathers and see if you can find a match!
Are there some more words you can add to your word-hoard? Revisit words from the last session and add your new ones.
Emily wants Frederick to come out on his bike.
- Have you seen his bike before?
There are lots of clues about things that might have happened in this story in the pictures, which are not explained in the text. We first see Frederick’s bike on page 3.
- Can you see it?
- What do you think has happened?
The rambling rose
Look together at page 16.
- What can you see?
Compare pages 3 and 16.
- What differences can you see?
You might like to compare the illustrations featuring Emily and Frederick.
- What do you notice about the use of colour and light?
- What feelings do you get from the pictures?
- Do you think Emma, the illustrator has an opinion about which child is happier? Why do you think this?
Compare and contrast Frederick and Emily
Use the Thinking Map Compare and Contrast (see resources) to think about the things Frederick and Emily have in common, and how they are different.
- Do you think they have more similarities or more differences?
- Which child do you think is happier?
- Which one is lonely?
- What clues did you use to make that decision?
How many times has Emily asked Frederick to come out to play? Look at Page 18.
- How do you think Emily is feeling?
- How does she feel on page 19? You might like to use a Bubble Map to record your thoughts.
- Why do you think Emily keeps writing to Frederick?
Comparing Frederick and Emily’s language
Choose two letters to look at closely, one from Emily and one from Frederick. You can hear that they use language in very different ways.
- How could you describe this difference?
- Which writing style do you prefer?
- Which is clearer to you?
Conscience alley: should he go?
Share page 27. Frederick needs to decide what to do. Conscience Alley is a useful drama strategy for exploring dilemmas and decision making. Working in pairs, allow time for the children to consider reasons to stay in or go out to play with Emily. Once everybody has an idea, organise the class into two facing lines—Walkthrough the middle of the aisle. Stop as you walk and allow children on both sides to whisper their reasons to you so that you can make a decision.
Look at the last letter Frederick sends.
- What can you see?
- Do you think he has changed over the story?
- Was Frederick right to be worried about going outside?
We don’t know exactly what happens to the children after the book ends.
- What do you think might happen next? Make a prediction!
- Did you find this book funny?
- We all find different things funny! Can you tell your group about the funniest book you’ve ever read?
- Revisit your word-hoard: can you remember the definitions?
- Are you all sesquipedalians now?
The word epistolary means a story told through letters, just like this one. Another word for your hoard!
Word Hoard! Send a picture of your word-hoard and show us how you are keeping it safe, using the Submission button on the top menu bar.
- Did you learn a lot of new words through reading this story?
- Which was your favourite word?
Perhaps you could teach it to a classmate, and see if you can both use it in your writing or speaking this week! You could even write it on a paper aeroplane and send it to another class!
If you liked this book, you might enjoy…
I Love You, Blue Kangaroo!
The Day the Crayons Quit
Reading Gladiators at home
Download or print the The Misadventures of Frederick home learning guide.