Written and Illustrated: Eleanor Davis
Kids tend to be scared of monsters but have they ever thought that maybe monsters could be scared of them too? In this story, Stinky the monster tries to run Nick out of his swamp because he thinks that Nick is too different for them to get along. Take a moment to draw attention to different elements in the cover and illustrations, and make predictions about the story. There are quite a few tips and suggestions throughout this guide, so feel free to spread them out across multiple readings:
What do you notice on the cover?
Who do you think Stinky is?
What do you think this story will be about?
Do you know what a swamp is? (A wetland that is forested) What do you think it would be like to live in a swamp?
As You Read
Emphasize the bolded text as you read, as this will show your child that the font of a word has meaning just like the letters do. You can also teach your child about superlatives using the text in this story. Stinky describes Wartbelly as the "GROSSEST, SMELLIEST toad in the swamp". You can point out that most words with that endings EST and IEST mean that that thing is the best in that category. Say, "That means that there is no toad in the whooooole swamp that is grosser or smellier than Wartbelly." Come up with more superlatives. For example, if your child has younger siblings, s/he would be the OLDEST child, and your home could be the BIGGEST in the neighborhood.
Check in every once in awhile to make sure your child is comprehending the story and its illustrations. Point out different elements like the music notes that Stinky hears and ask, "What do you think that means? What sounds do you think Stinky is hearing?" You can ask other questions like "What do you think will happen next? Why is Nick hanging out with Wartbelly in the swamp?"
There are several lessons to be learned from this story, so take this time to discuss the story as a whole and touch on the different messages. Ask questions like:
Where did Stinky live? Would you want to live there? Why/why not?
Why was Stinky afraid of Nick?
What are some things that he did to try to get Nick to leave?
Things aren't always what you think they are. Have you ever been scared of something but then found out that it wasn't scary at all? What was it?
Stinky and Nick decide to rename their toad Daisy Wartbelly. They made a COMPROMISE, which means that they agreed to work together to name Daisy Wartbelly. Can you think of a time when you made a COMPROMISE with someone else?
In the end, Stinky tries an apple for the first time and realizes that he likes how it tastes. Have you tried something new lately? If so, what was it? Why is it important to try new things?
Extending the Story
Create A Neighborhood Map
Check out the map of Stinky's swamp in the book and think about your own neighborhood. You can try this activity on a much smaller scale, but use supplies from around your house to create a 3D map of your neighborhood. You can use construction paper, empty toilet paper rolls, cardboard, paint, and pipe cleaners to create houses, streets, trees, and any other special landmarks. If you'd like, you can start off by creating a 3D version of Stinky's swamp and using leaves and branches from outside to make the trees and other shrubbery.
Check This Out
Your child can read along as the author of the story creates the voice of Stinky in this video! As she and the other voices read, the speech bubbles above the characters' heads are highlighted so that children can follow along easily.