Dear Head Teacher/Literacy Co-ordinator,

It may be that in planning for the next school year you are still considering what new literacy resources to put in place for Years 4-6.

The Paka Mdogo books, by H. S. Toshack, are a series of three full-length stories for that age group, supported by an extensive set of free KS2 teaching and learning resources aligned to the National Literacy Strategies. To learn more go to  and click on any of the Paka Mdogo book covers…or read on.

“Three delightful adventure stories set in Africa… Illustrated brilliantly… reminiscent of Kipling's Jungle Books - sometimes allegorical but always entertaining. Another place, and another culture, but young children will delight in having these stories read to them, and older children will find them a perfect read. Excellent value for money.”

Books Monthly, May 2011      



Crucially, these are not ‘school books’, but pieces of quality fiction in their own right, and they are beginning to attract much interest in the book world.

All three have fast-paced narratives, including suspenseful and often humorous encounters, and share a central character – a clever (and cheeky) black-and-white cat who lives in Africa, repeatedly sneaks off on safari with the Allen Family, and has remarkable adventures with the wild animals in Baragandiri National Park.

The things that will make the books of particular value to schools are…

The free teaching and learning resources available from our website

We have developed a full set of downloadable materials to support teachers in their use of the texts in the classroom. These principally take the form of study tasks linked to each of a book’s chapters. The tasks are challenging, engaging, and closely tied in to KS2 objectives. They are presented in tabular form so that teachers can easily see which of the Literacy Strands they are linked to, and match them to the needs of individual students, groups, or whole classes.

The study tasks are designed to be used on a page-by-page basis, and are wholly flexible, so they can be employed in a variety of ways and settings:

  • Students reading a book independently can be directed to the tasks most appropriate to their level of language skill, as a way of supplementing what they have taken from the reading process itself.
  • Teachers selecting any of the books for whole-class Novel Study will find that they can use the materials to fully open up the text for their students, across a wide range of ability levels. The study tasks give attention to reading and comprehension, language awareness, thinking skills, individual writing (both creative and expository), open discussion, dramatic presentation, and simple literary judgement.
  • At a practical level, and since the study tasks are page-linked, the teacher can ask students (individually, in groups or as a whole class) to read a particular page and respond to its study task. Responses can then be shared, assessed by both teachers and students, and used as a foundation for further work.
  • The resources can be safely recommended to parents who wish to assist their children with reading and general language development.

The progressive nature of the series
Each book and its accompanying resources will appeal to young readers within a spread of ability and interest, and could be used effectively in any one of Years 4-6. However, there is a shift of focus through the series, and the second and third books (‘The Gradual Elephant’ and ‘The Meerkat Wars’) raise issues that will catch and hold the attention of older primary pupils, who want to be entertained but who at the same time are becoming aware of some of life’s difficulties, both personal and societal. Schools making class use of the whole series will probably choose to assign each of the three books to a different year level.

If you would like to preview the books, and read more about what they and their accompanying resources have to offer, please visit  You will be able to download sample chapters and resources, and we would welcome any questions you may have about them.

We hope you won’t miss this opportunity to put in place, for next year, some really fine literacy resources. At the very least we hope you will consider adding the books to your class libraries or the school library. That would give you an opportunity to trial them in a small way before you commit to fuller use.

We’d be delighted to hear from you (at about any of the above.


Jan Gould
WordSmith Publishers/PakaMdogo Press

York Publishing Services Ltd, 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe, YORK, Y031 7ZQ.