Thursday, May 23, 2024


by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Helen Ward

Once, the only sounds to be heard were the buzzing of bees in the grass, the murmuring of moles in the earth, and the song of birds in the sky. These warmed the hearts of those who cared to listen – until the others came to fill the sky with a cacophony of noise.

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • The book begins with the sentence, “There was once only the sound of bees and the wind in the wiry grass, the low murmuring of moles in the cool dark earth and the song of birds in the high blue sky.” Could you use this sentence as the starting point for your own story?
  • Write a character description of a varmint.
  • Retell the story from the point of view of one of the varmints.
  • Write a newspaper report about the arrival of the ‘OTHERS’.
  • This book is called ‘Varmints: Part One’. Could you write and illustrate part two?
  • The story doesn’t include any dialogue. Can you add some to the illustrations?
  • This story has been turned into a short film. Watch it and compare it with the book. Which do you prefer? Why?
  • In the story, ‘SOMEONE nurtured a little piece of wilderness’. Can you write some instructions to teach others how to look after a plant?
  • The book has a cliff-hanger ending. Can you think of other stories that use this technique? Can you think of a cliff-hanger ending for a story of your own?


  • A varmint is an animal that is considered to be a pest. Can you think of animals that this definition might include? Could you write a report about them?
  • One of the creatures grows plants in his home. What do plants need to grow? Can you grow some of your own?
  • How do plants disperse their seeds? Make a poster that shows the different methods.
  • Look around your local area and identify plants growing near to you.
  • Create a poster that teaches others about the life cycle of bees.


  • Design a game that features the varmints.
  • Can you use art software to create an illustration of the varmints?
  • Create a poster to promote the book / short film.

Design Technology

  • Create a 3D model of a varmint.


  • Can you create your own drawings / paintings of the varmints?
  • Look at the use of light and darkness in the illustrations. Could you use a similar style in your own drawings?
  • How does the use of colour change as the story progresses? Could you use this technique in a storyboard for your own story?


  • Compose a melody that could accompany the animated version of this story.


  • Find out how your local area has changed over time.


  • Does this story have a moral? What is it trying to teach us?

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