Picture Book Plays, presented by Julia Donaldson

A Squash and a Squeeze

Written by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This book, which started its life as a song on children’s television, tells the story of a little old lady who thinks that her house is too small. ‘My house is a squash and a squeeze,’ she complains to a wise old man. He advises her to take various animals into her house – first a hen, then a goat, then a pig and finally a cow, who dances on the table. The old lady is at her wits’ ends until she follows the old man’s next piece of advice: ‘Take them all out.’ Once she has the house all to herself again, it feels enormous!

Characters

  • Narrator(s)
  • Little Old Lady
  • Wise Old Man
  • Hen
  • Goat
  • Pig
  • Cow
  • The House (made up of a circle of children who also chant or sing the chorus – they can be divided into doorway, window, curtains and larder)

Props and Costumes

  • A low sturdy table
  • A chair
  • (optional) A shelf with a jug on it
  • Simple hats or masks for the animals
  • A bowler hat and walking stick for the wise old man
  • Maybe an apron for the old lady

Optional sound effects

If you decide to perform this as a song, you can find a karaoke track on the CD of The Gruffalo Song and Other Songs, which also contains the musical accompaniment in case you prefer to use a live guitar or piano.

However, the book can also be performed as a story without music.

Preparation

After sharing the book, ask the children if the old lady’s house really did get bigger. You may get some quite imaginative replies! It can be helpful to draw an analogy with a school: ‘If tomorrow the classroom next door was being painted and the children had to join us, and the next day another teacher was ill and her class had to come in, would our classroom feel like the little old lady’s house in A Squash and a Squeeze? And when the extra children went out again would our classroom actually be bigger or just feel bigger?’

The whole class can try out the antics of the different animals – laying eggs, scratching fleas, chewing curtains, dancing, etc., before you definitively cast the roles.

Then the remaining children form the house, with two tall ones being the archway leading to the outside area where the man and animals start off. It is quite fun to choose some children to be the larder (which is raided by the pig), and get them to decide which items of food they represent. The ‘house’ can also act as narrators or at least chant or sing the chorus.

The dramatization is quick and fun to do in the classroom, but it would also make a good play to perform in public. In this case it might be better for the children to form a three-walled house so that the audience can see better what is happening inside.

Contributed by Joyce Dunbar.

Videos

A Squash and a Squeeze

A Squash and a Squeeze

Watch a film of a class performing Squash and a Squeeze with Julia Donaldson

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Picture Book Plays, presented by Julia Donaldson
Printed from www.picturebookplays.co.uk