The Were-Nana By Melinda Szymanik




I stumbled across The Were-Nana, last week when I was searching for a spooky Halloween-type story to read. This one is a bit of fun, and one to remember for next year.


Stella-Rosa’s older brother, Simon, loves to scare her; from spiders to scary stories, he just loves it!

On the day their Nana Lupin is due to arrive from a faraway country, Simon sees the perfect opportunity to terrify his little sister. He tells her that Nana Lupin has whiskers that scratch your skin, sharp claw-like fingernails that dig into you and that when she kisses you, you turn into a wicked were-nana – just like her!

When Stella-Rosa comes face to face with Nana Lupin, she is terrified and screams when Nana Lupin tries to hug her; but then the scary were-nana takes off her long black cloak, and… things suddenly don’t seem so terrifying.

Why I love it:

I love the illustrations, by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson; they are bright and realistic, with an almost comic book look to them. I also find the brother/sister banter appealing and I like the neat and tidy ending, which relates beautifully to the beginning of the story. This would actually be a great book for studying plot development and story structure.

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Family
  • Fears
  • Tricks and teasing
  • Being brave
  • Being polite
  • Not believing everything you are told
  • The concept of ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’
  • The concept of ‘What goes around, comes around’

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?
  • What kind of character do you think the girl on the cover is?
  • Why do you think she has a soft-toy dog on her leg?
  • Why do you think the cover says, ‘NOT a bedtime story’?
  • Does this make you want to read it more or less?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Why do you think Simon teased and tricked his little sister?
  • How do you think Simon then felt at the end of the story?
  • Should we always believe the things others tell us? Why/Why not?
  • Have you ever been afraid of someone/something that turned out okay? Tell me about it.

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