Thursday 18 August 2022

The Worst Itch

The Worst Itch by Marie Armstrong, illustrated by Mariam Davitavian (Designed and illustrated in Mosherino Agency) PB

Reviewed by Kathleen Grace

This is an excellent picture book for pre-school and early infants’ students. It begins with Gracie in bed with a ‘very bad itch, worse than any itch she has ever known.’ It’s even itchier than Dad’s hairy beardy kiss goodnight! Gracie scratches her head with fingers, comb, ruler, even a coat hanger. But nothing seems to help.

It’s at this point the reader finds out what is causing the itching because, asking the reader to share the secret, a nit, dancing in Gracie’s head, says, ‘The more Gracie scratches, the more it tickles me. The more it tickles me the more I giggle.’ The nit – who calls himself King Nit – slides down shafts of hair with his friends. ‘It’s like a slippery dip in a fun park,’ King Nit says. However, fun time is about to change – a storm is coming! Grace’s Mum puts her in the bathtub and washes her hair with anti-nit lotion.

King Nit leaps onto the bathroom floor and snuggles into a towel. Grace’s brother Buddy wraps it around his head, and of course before long his head is itchy, too. Mum’s solution this time is to shave Buddy’s hair. Off jumps King Nit into a nearby brush… which Mum subsequently uses. The cycle continues, and King Nit says with much pride, he is ‘the largest itchiest, and best-looking bug in the world of heads.’

Despite its subject matter (familiar to many young readers), The Worst Itch is a joyous tale with lots of fun and action, and of course there are drama, too, as King Nit and his friends are challenged. The text is enlivened by words in different sized and coloured font, and lots of exclamation marks. It is read-aloud friendly, with the nits shown in different configurations and colours.

Readers aged 4+ years are sure to enjoy this entertaining story.

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