Title: How the Borks Became
Author: Jonathan Emmett
Illustrations: Elys Dolan
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books
Details: 32pp, £11.99, hardback
In Mole Class, we love learning with books and we often use them as inspiration for our writing. When we were sent How the Borks Became, I was excited to use a storybook to teach a new concept to the children. It explains evolution using made-up creatures – the Borks. The simple storyline uses their changing appearance over the years to show why species adapt and evolve in order to stay alive.
I was initially put off by the visuals; they are not to my taste, and I don’t think I would have picked the book up in a store. However, my class felt the opposite about Elys Dolan’s vibrant colours, and loved poring over each page to see what they could spot and finding new things.
Although I was unsure about the initial look of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the humour, which I enjoyed, as did my teaching assistant, but which did unfortunately go over the children’s heads.
We found that the more we read it and looked at the pages, the more questions we had about evolution. I was surprised by how engaged the children were with the story and how much they were able to understand, and we have since gone on to explore evolution more. It breaks down a tricky concept in a way that is approachable for younger children – and you can look for rainbow dungs on most pages (win-win). Although it’s aimed at younger children, I believe this book could be used through to Year 6 to introduce such a complex subject.
Overall, although How the Borks Became is not a book I would have picked up to read to the class and not something I would necessarily have bought to share, I like the book for use as a teaching tool. The children in my class have responded fantastically to it and it has become a regular in our shared reading time.
Isobel Potter is a Year 1 and 2 teacher at Barnham Church of England VC Primary School in Norfolk
‘It is about evolution’
The book explains why the Borks look yellow with long necks now instead of blue with no necks. It is about evolution. I would recommend this book because you can learn about stuff but also it is still fun to read.
Toby, age 7
‘They had to change’
It’s fascinating how they evolved and why the Borks had to change. I like reading books with funny bits in the text and this book didn’t really have any funny bits but it did have rainbow poop, which made it funnier.
Harry, age 7
‘One has three eyes’
The front cover is interesting because you can notice things about the different animals – one has three eyes – and you know that they will all be different.
Ella, age 6
‘Lots of clues’
I like the front cover because it gives you lots of clues about the book and I like the pictures on the blurb because it explains what evolving really is.
Toby, age 7
‘You could join in’
I liked the rhyming in the story and you could guess some of the words and join in reading it.
Millie, age 7
What was interesting was the names because the author thought of them all. It was interesting to see how we evolved.
Nuna, age 7
‘Fun to learn’
The author makes it fun to learn about science.
Jess, age 7
‘I was sad when they died’
This book is about why some Borks survived and why some didn’t. The blue Borks are killed in the cold and then they have to change into yellow ones to survive. I would recommend this book because I like the rhyming and I think it is funny. It was sad when the Borks died because the ones with the long necks could have helped the little ones, but they didn’t.
Shelby, age 6
‘It has rainbow poop in it!’
I would recommend this book because it has rainbow poop in it!
Lottie, age 6
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