Saturday, May 25, 2024


by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by David Baddiel

Malcolm doesn’t like animals. Which is a problem because his family love them. Their house is full of pets. What the house is NOT full of is stuff Malcolm likes. Such as the laptop he wanted for his birthday.

The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year Six school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. And yet there he is, on the bus, heading to… oh no. A farm. Over the next days, Malcolm changes. He learns a lot about animals. More, in many ways, than he would like. He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…

It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before?

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Create a persuasive advert to promote the laptop that Malcolm dreams of at the beginning of the book.
  • Retell the story (or part of it) from Malcolm’s point of view. You could choose the first chapter in which he receives his pet chinchilla.
  • Malcolm’s family have lots of pets. Create a set of instructions to teach people how to look after a particular pet. These could be written instructions, a radio report or a video tutorial that could be posted online.
  • Write a persuasive letter to your family to ask them to get you a pet… or to your teacher asking for a class pet.
  • Should people be allowed to keep pets? Make a list of the ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments and use them to write a balanced argument about the topic.
  • Libby makes up lots of unusual acronyms. Can you find out common acronyms for different terms and use them to make an acronym dictionary? Could you make up your own acronyms?
  • The title of chapter five is ‘The Last Present’. Could you use this as the title for your own story?
  • Chapter five ends with a cliffhanger because Malcolm doesn’t know where his school trip will take him. Can you find cliffhangers in other stories? Can you use these as ideas for cliffhangers in your own stories?
  • At the end of chapter nine, Malcolm discovers that he has transformed into a tortoise. Write your own version of what might happen next.
  • K-Pax says ‘To understand animals, you have to live as an animal!’. Write a story about what you would do if you were turned into an animal.
  • Write a new chapter of the story in which Malcolm turns into a brand new animal.
  • Write a postcard / letter from Malcolm to his family at different points in the story.
  • Write a newspaper report about a boy who went missing on a school trip to the farm.
  • Look at the illustrations and think of captions, speech / thought bubbles to accompany them.
  • Write a sequel to this book based on what happens in the second coda.
  • Could you record a written, audio or video review of the book?


  • Malcolm’s family joke about getting 700 cats, 800 dogs and five giraffes. Calculate how many legs and tails this many animals would have.
  • Could you conduct a survey to find out the most popular pet / animal of the children in your class? Use this information to generate a report and a variety of charts / graphs.


  • Malcolm transforms into different animals throughout the story. Can you make a list of similarities / differences between them all?
  • Each time Malcolm wakes up, he has to work out which animal he has turned into. Make a set of clues to help people identify different animals.


  • Stewart designs apps. Could you design an app that would be number one in the App Store? What features would it have? Who might use it?
  • Design a game in which Malcolm has to travel from the farm back to his home.
  • Create an animation in which a person transforms into different animals.
  • Create a website to promote Animalcolm to other children.
  • Watch this trailer for the book. Could you create one using video / animation / multimedia tools?


  • Can you create your own illustrations of the creatures that appear in the book?
  • Design a new front cover for the book.


  • Year Six go on a school trip to a farm. Can you find any farms in your local area? What do they produce?
  • At one point in the story, Malcolm turns into a pigeon. Draw a birds eye view of the different places that he visited (or of a place in your local area).


  • The animals on the farm all speak different languages (‘malanguages). Can you speak any other languages?
  • Can you find out the names of different animals in other languages?


  • Read the description of Malcolm’s family on page 10 and create a family tree for him. Could you create your own family tree and compare them?

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