Will Mr Brown find his Very Important Briefcase before bedtime? The chase is on!
Who's It For?
About this Book
Mr Brown is a tiger. He’s also a Very Important Businessman who carries a Very Important Briefcase to a Very Important Office, where he buys and sells things on the telephone and signs papers for his staff.
You can imagine his concern, then, when he realises that he’s lost his briefcase on a lunchtime visit to the park...
Fortunately, Mr Brown spots his Very Important Briefcase in a pushchair with a baby elephant.
Unfortunately, the baby hooks it onto an ice-cream cart, which speeds away.
Fortunately, the ice-cream seller stops.
Unfortunately some children on a school visit pick it up …. and before Mr Brown knows what’s happening, the chase is on!
An enjoyable chasing game ensues as Mr Brown pursues his briefcase. It’s a journey that takes this (really rather charming) business-tiger through the park on a borrowed tricycle and out into the city, offering exciting opportunities for drama and storymaking before the mix-up is resolved.
Long after dark, Mr Brown returns home, briefcase in paw, and wearily climbs the stairs to bed. And FINALLY we discover what is so important....!
Mr Brown's Bad Day is a feel-good book bursting with sunshine and optimism which will grab children’s attention and spark discussion, as well as offering lots of intriguing starting points for cross-curricular activities.
Alison Friend’s affectionate illustrations evoke the charm and nostalgia of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town and add an intriguing sense of possibility to Lou Peacock’s text.
Sharing and talking about this book
Show children the front cover and ask them to describe what they can see.
Has anyone read this story? What do you think it’s going to be about?
Share the whole story as a reading-for-pleasure experience, taking time to enjoy the pictures. When you’ve finished reading, talk about the book. Here are some questions to get you started - but your discussion may take a different path!
What did you like about this book?
What’s your favourite scene?
How many different types of animal can you spot?
How does this story make you feel?
If you could meet Mr Brown, what would you ask him?
Does this book remind you of anything else you’ve read?
Who would like this book? What would you tell them about it?
Re-read the story so that children are able to notice details they missed first time round.
What next? Activities...
Construct a physical pathway to represent Mr Brown’s story-path in this book – one that children can walk along and experience, rather than a 2D image. Try chalking a path on the playground, taping wallpaper to the floor or outlining a path with skipping ropes!
Prepare cards showing key story locations – office, bench, funfair, bus-stop, tennis courts – then ask children to help you place the cards in the right order along the path. Visit each place and talk about what happened there. Can you think of an action to represent each event? How did Mr Brown go from one location to the next? Walk, ride on a Big Wheel, tricycle… Can you find an action to represent these movements?
Walk the path together, doing all the actions. Use the experience to help you re-tell Mr Brown’s story, then ask children to draw Mr Brown’s story path and mark the key events.
This was a bad day for Mr Brown. What other kinds of day could he have had?
List them: a good day, an exciting day, a difficult day…
Suggest new words to replace the chosen adjectives (difficult could become challenging, exciting could become thrilling…) or come up with opposites.
Ask each child to illustrate one example using the Mr Brown character, and create a word-bank display.
Mr Brown works in an office - but what does he do?
Talk about the kind of work people do in offices. Where else do people work? What kind of jobs do they do?
Mr Brown wears a suit and carries a briefcase. Do other people need special equipment for their jobs, or wear special clothes? How many different jobs/occupations can you think of? Pool your ideas.
How could you find out more? Perhaps someone’s mum or dad could tell you about their job, or you could watch a video.
Working together, design a questionnaire to find out which jobs are done by parents/carers of children in your school. Collect data, then show the results on a table and as a bar graph. Write about what you did and what you’ve learned.
Re-read the “fortunately…unfortunately…” section and talk about it.
Invent more examples of good and bad luck for Mr Brown, then use the construction in a pass-it-on game of oral storytelling about an imaginary school day. Record children’s ideas on a whiteboard, so they can write and illustrate them later.
Explore other pairs of opposites (happily + sadly, quickly + slowly, loudly + quietly) and extend by using in similar ways to generate more stories.
Look at the spreads showing Mr Brown walking through the city streets.
How do you think he’s feeling? How can you tell? Who else can you see?
Invent reasons why the other characters are walking along the street.
Where could they be going, and why? What kind of buildings can you see? What else do you notice? Where do you live? Does it look this this?
Ask children to pretend they’re Very Important People. Can they walk around a large-clear space in a Very Important Way? Talk about facial expressions and body language. Use props – a hat, a bag. Do they help you feel more important?
What do Very Important People think on their Very Important Walks? Ask children to write Very Important Thoughts on ‘bubbles’ cut from white card. Photograph each child in a Very Important Pose holding their thought-bubble, then use your print-outs as a starting point for writing. For example, children could write about what they did, annotate their photo with words describing how they felt in-role, or write a description of their photograph.
Extend by making ‘city-building’ scenery for your Very Important Walks and photo sessions. Paint large cardboard boxes and walk among them, or create a wallpaper frieze as a photographic backdrop.
What’s important to Mr Brown? Who and what is important to you? Why?
Talk about ideas and feelings as well as objects, people and places, then ask children to write about Very Important Things and illustrate their work.
More writing prompts...
What happens on Mr Brown’s Good Day?
What is Mr Brown dreaming about?
How would one of the schoolchildren tell this story?
As a group, use the visual and textual information in this book to help you draw a sketchmap of Mr Brown’s city. Talk about the chase and show it as a line on your map.
Look at a map of your neighbourhood and identify key locations. Imagine Mr Brown is chasing his briefcase along your streets. What can he see?
Invent new episodes for Mr Brown’s Briefcase Chase and set them in locations in your neighbourhood – events that could only happen where you live! Tell the story of what happens and show these locations on your map.
Draw a new double spread for this book, featuring your invented episode. Add some text, then extend by asking children to draw maps of imaginary cities and invent stories that happen there.
Before you start, ask children to draw head-and-shoulders self-portraits in the middle of a large, plain sheet of paper - or take similar photos of children pretending to be asleep and print them, one per sheet.
Talk about bedtime routines. What do your children have in common at this time of day? Do they eat or drink? Brush their teeth? Listen to a story? Watch TV?
Create a shared diagram or timeline showing how your class prepares for bed.
Look at the picture of Mr Brown tucked up in bed. How do you think he's feeling?
Collect words and phrases to describe him, write on sticky notes and add around the illustration.
Give each child their self-portrait 'starter-picture' created earlier, and ask them to turn it into a bedtime illustration like the one Alison Friend has painted of Mr Brown, by drawing a pillow, duvet, teddy etc around themselves.
Extend by writing about bedtime routines, or describe how it feels to be snuggled up in bed.
Set up a roleplay office with a variety of phones, filing trays and other equipment.
Add dress-up ‘business clothes’ and accessories, such as suit jackets and briefcases. Include a variety of writing materials and invite children to explore, communicate and create!
Make your reading area extra-snuggly with blankets and cushions. Add plenty of soft toys, together with blankets and fabric to wrap them in, plus a collection of really good bedtime stories.
Share the stories as a class and encourage children to read them to the toys. Then learn some lullabies and sing to them!
Play some traditional chasing games in-role as Mr Brown and the children - or why not try a game of Hunt the Briefcase or Tiger’s Footsteps?
What does Mr Brown’s bag look like? Why is it so important?
Ask children how they know these things. Did they look at the pictures, or listen to the text? Maybe they’re applying knowledge they already have, or making an inference.
Ask children about bags belonging to family members or friends. What do these bags look like? What are they used for? What would your children keep in a special bag?
Make a collection of briefcases and other bags, and explore them.
Make Very Important Bags from paper or card, and decorate them. What would you keep inside a Very Important Bag? Draw the things, cut them out and put them in your bag.
If you liked this, try...
Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, published by Two Hoots
What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry, published by HarperCollins
The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers, published by HarperCollins
Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough, published by Walker
Nuts! by Lou Peacock and Yasmeen Ismail, published by Nosy Crow
Charlie Chooses by Lou Peacock and Nicola Slater, published by Nosy Crow
There's a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart, published by Lincoln Children's Books
That Bear Can't Babysit by Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend, published by Nosy Crow
Lou Peacock is Head of Picturebooks at Nosy Crow. Find out more about the books she's written by visiting the Nosy Crow website HERE
Follow illustrator Alison Friend on instagram HERE
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