What’s the Matter, Aunty May? By Peter Friend




This is a fun, engaging book for anyone who has ever had a child ‘help’ them with the housework.


The dapper little boy in this story is visiting his aunt. He doesn’t quite understand why Aunty May is cross at him. After all, all he did for the whole day was help her around the house. Seriously, the red ink on the cat will fade and the antique vase looks nearly as good as new.

Why I love it:

I can somewhat relate to Aunty May in this story. Sometimes kids’ best intentions aren’t exactly what we need:

At 8 and 6, my kids are now at the age where they help around the house a bit more. Today I taught my daughter how to sort and put on a load of washing and my son is a ripper with a dusting cloth! But every time they ask me, “What’s my next job?” I feel a slight sense of panic: what job can I give them that won’t result in disaster? What job can I give them that I won’t then need to redo? I love their help and I absolutely love the fact they want to help, but it’s not quite like hiring a cleaner – not yet, at least!

I also love this book because the rhyming text was fantastic reading practise for my eight year old. I love the fact that sometimes picture story books can surprise you and provide reading challenges beyond the novels she is currently reading.

When reading a novel, a slipped word here and there doesn’t change the meaning of the text too much and you can get away with it, but when my daughter read this story, every word had to be read correctly and there were several times she had to self-correct to get the right flow to the words.

It was really interesting for me to see that the simple picture story book, offered a challenge her chapter books do not.

Themes/ideas to discuss with your child:

  • ‘Helping’ others
  • Sarcasm
  • Being polite
  • Humour
  • ‘Reading’ illustrations
  • Rhyming text

 Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • Just from looking at the cover, what can you tell about the little boy?
  • What is the boy holding?
  • Why do you think he might be holding this?
  • What is lying on the floor?
  • What do you think this might mean?


After reading:

  • Did you enjoy this book? Why/why not?
  • Why was Aunty May cross with her nephew?
  • List three of the things the boy did that may have upset Aunty May.
  • Through Andrew Joyner’s illustrations, we can tell that Aunty May and the little boy are both quite wealthy (or rich). We can tell this because of what they both wear around their necks. What does Aunty May wear? What does the boy wear?
  • Which word does the author rhyme with ‘gruff’?
  • Which word does the author rhyme with ‘help’?
  • Have you ever tried to help and actually not helped at all? What happened?
  • If you were Aunty May, would you want your nephew to come back tomorrow? Why/Why not?

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