The Terrible Plop

written by Ursula Dubosarsky
illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Ursula Dubosarsky's The Terrible Plop
illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Book review by Susan Syddall

Ages 3+

Meet the Big Brown Bear Who’s Afraid of a Strange Noise

Every now and then you come across a book, written in rhyme, which is an absolute pleasure to read. "The Terrible Plop," written by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, is one of those books. In fact, "The Terrible Plop" has been one of our family favourites now for a couple of years. It's one of those books you can keep on your shelf and read over and over again.

"The Terrible Plop" starts out with a peaceful scene of rabbits munching on carrots and chocolate cake. Anything starting with a scrumptious chocolate cake, in my opinion, is definitely on the right start. However, things don't stay peaceful for long. An unexplained PLOP ... a terrible PLOP ... spoils the day and sends everyone scattering.

As the story unfolds, all sorts of animals run in fear of the noise creating pandemonium. They have absolutely no idea of what made the noise, a fact which just adds to their terror. In the middle of all this chaos, we are introduced to the big brown bear who is sunning himself in a fold chair. This enormous bear is full of character and is outraged that someone or something could be considered stronger than him. He's so big, tough and seemingly brave especially when compared to the smallest white rabbit whom he captures. The pair set off (the rabbit somewhat unwillingly) to solve the mystery of the terrible plop.

You can't help feel for the smallest, cutest rabbit who is in the biggest trouble. He is sandwiched between the threat of the gigantic bear and the terror of the terrible plop. Yet, in the face of trouble, this little hero keeps his cool and ends up discovering the truth about the terrible plop which is something that no creature discovers. He is rewarded by having the chocolate cake all too himself. Hooray for the rabbit!

This is a great story to read to even the youngest children. The author and illustrator have teamed up together to create a book which is well balanced. The pace of the rhyme and the appealing illustrations help to balance the story line so that the story has just the right amount of action and suspense. This is especially important for young children who can sometimes find scary stories too frightening.

Review continues below.

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Books offer children many learning opportunities. "The Terrible Plop" is no exception. By using this story, parents/carers/teachers can:

  • Talk about fears - imagined and real. This is a very relevant topic for children who are still developing a concept of what is real and what is not. Unexplained noises can often be a source of fear for young children (and even, perhaps, for those of us who have accumulated a few more years experience!).
  • Discuss how we should treat and interact with others. In the story, the big bear bullies the smallest rabbit into doing what he wants. It's never too early to teach children appropriate social skills and how to care for others - especially for those in our society who are more vulnerable.
  • Look at different ways to create illustrations for stories. The illustrations in "The Terrible Plop" have been created using mixed media. They offer a great opportunity to discuss the different ways illustrations can be created (i.e., drawn, painted, collaged, etc.). Such discussions would lead to the perfect opportunity for children to try making their own illustrations using a mixture of collage, drawing and/or painting.

The Terrible Plop is a definite keeper and a story you'll read time and time again. It is perfect for reading aloud to children and for children who are adventuring into the brave world of independent reading. I highly recommend adding "The Terrible Plop" to your child's reading list! Now if only I knew the address of the little rabbit as he might need some help in eating that chocolate cake!

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