Sunday, June 16, 2024


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

Things are not looking good for Zoe. Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And now the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers is after her pet rat! And guess what he wants to do with it?

The clue is in the title…

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Before reading the book, look at the characters shown at the beginning. What might each character be like? How might they be involved in the story?
  • Raj appears in all of David Walliams’ books. Could you write your own story about him?
  • At the end of Chapter One, the author asks the reader lots of questions about who murdered the hamster. Can you write about who did this… before reading on to find out the answer?
  • Make a persuasive poster to advertise some of the wonderful flavours of ice cream that are mentioned in Chapter Two.
  • The author explains that Zoe ‘must have sensed a kindred spirit’ with Gingernut. What does this mean?
  • Write a story about Zoe’s dream of travelling the world with a menagerie of animal stars. Could you use alliteration to make up new animal acts, e.g. Trampolining Tortoises, Painting Penguins?
  • Read the lists of ‘Loved’ and ‘Unloved’ things in Chapter 6. Can you think of other things to add to these lists?
  • Chapter 12 begins with the question, ‘What is the worst thing that could ever happen to you at school?’ Can you make a list of possible answers? Could you use one of these as the starting point for a story?
  • Make a poster to advertise the school’s talent show.
  • Make a poster to advertise Armitage’s Ices.
  • Watch this video showing the launch of the book. Could you plan a big event to ‘launch’ one of your own stories?


  • In Chapter 10, there is a chart showing the height of different people / creatures. Can you carry out a survey to find the height of children in your class and use these to create charts and graphs?


  • Make a set of instructions to teach people how to look after a pet hamster, rat or another animal.
  • Zoe’s stepmother loves eating prawn cocktail crisps. Can you plan a healthy meal for her?
  • Make a poster to teach Raj what happened to his pet tadpole Poppadom.
  • Zoe only has a bread sandwich for lunch at school. Can you plan a healthy packed lunch that she might enjoy more?


  • Explore the World of Walliams site and try some of the games that are based on the author’s books.
  • Could you record your own retelling of the story (or a part of it)?

Design Technology

  • Design a machine that might help you to smuggle an animal into school (see Chapter 7 for lots of ideas).
  • Design a step / ladder to help Miss Midge reach the blackboard.


  • Draw your own pictures of some of the animals in Zoe’s dream menagerie of animal stars!


  • Draw a map showing the locations mentioned in the story, e.g. the leaning tower block, Zoe’s school, Burt’s secret lair.


  • Miss Midge teaches the class about the Black Death. Can you find out about this period in history and write a report about it?


  • Make a list of things that Zoe could do to find some new friends at her school.
  • Zoe is bullied by Tina throughout the story. What could Zoe do to stop this?
  • Burt cannot see. Can you find out how being blind affects the lives of those affected?

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