Something Else by Kathryn Cave. Illustrated by Chris Riddell

something else

A simple story, about a small creature who does his best to join in with the others. But he’s different. No matter how he tries, he just doesn’t belong.

Then Something turns up and wants to be friends. But Something Else isn’t sure he’s like him at all…

Kathryn Cave’s poignantly simple story is brought to life by Chris Riddell in this enchantingly original picture book.

Against the backdrop of ‘Brexit Britain’, Trump’s America and with immigration never far from the top of the news, this charming and beautifully illustrated book explores what it is like to be different and how difficult it is to fit in when you are not like everyone else.

Winner of the UNESCO prize for children’s literature in support of, “the organization’s drive to achieve lasting peace on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity,” the book takes the reader through the feelings of alienation, of being ridiculed and struggling to find the courage to reach out to someone when they are being rejected from a group.

Ironically enough, few of the weird and wonderful creatures in this book look alike. There are tall and gangly birds, giant white rabbits and giraffes in huge glasses. But nothing quite like ‘Something Else.’ ‘Something Else’ is a tiny blue furry creature who eats different food and is no good at any of the other creatures’ games – sound like anyone else? Rudolph? Ugly Duckling?

Until one night, another strange creature comes knocking at ‘Something Else’s door. The creature is friendly and wants to come in. ‘Something Else’ is wary, unkind and ultimately sends him away. Until he recognises that he has done to the creature what all of the other creatures have done to him and it makes him feel very sad. They inevitably re-unite and they become great friends.

Ideas for classroom discussion

This text would be suitable for both Key Stages, even though some of the older children might reject it at first, it presents another great opportunity to challenge other preconceived notions and beliefs – this time about picture books! Chris Riddell is also a political cartoonist, which could help to bring the text into the current context of fear of globalisation.

For example – for Year 6 this cartoon that Chris Riddell drew for the Observer following the murder of Jo Cox could be referenced:

riddel picture

It is likely that some of the children will have felt the same feelings of alienation and sadness as ‘Something Else’ and it could present a helpful opportunity to empathise with the characters and work out how the characters could have behaved differently.

Could they refer to their school’s Golden Rules and suggest some of the reasons why we are encouraged to behave in a certain way towards our friends and the adults in the school?

Why do the other creatures not wish to involve Something Else? And more poignantly, why does ‘Something Else’ instinctively reject the new creature?

Could the children consider what it feels like to be the new person in a new setting? Have any of the children started a new school, a class or club, or moved to a new area. How does it feel and how can we as established members of the community help the new person to feel welcome?

Further resources: from The Linking Network – ideas for teaching about ‘How Do We All Live Together’:

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