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Anthony Browne: Gorillas and my dad

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By Rob

Explore the work of Children’s Laureate, Anthony Browne, with this video and activities

Anthony Browne interview

These activities accompany the video interview with Anthony Browne, in which he discusses gorillas and his relationship with his dad.

Key Stage 1

Anthony tells us that one reason he likes gorillas is that they remind him of his father. Sketch a gorilla on one side of the whiteboard or flipchart and Anthony Browne’s dad on the other. Watch the section of film again where Anthony is asked about gorillas and ask the children to note down the reasons why his dad reminds him of a gorilla. Annotate the drawings with words used by Anthony, for example: powerful, fierce, gentle.

Ask the children if they were an animal, what would they be? Ask them to provide a valid reason for their choice. You may need to model this by providing your own example.

After verbal exploration, give the children large sheets of paper folded in half and ask them to draw themselves, or a friend or sibling, on one side and the animal on the other. Ask them to annotate their drawing with words and phrases to describe the animal and the person.

Share children’s work and demonstrate to the class how the ideas can be turned into sentences using commas to separate items in a list, for example: My sister is like a cat because she is cuddly, loving and likes to sleep.

Lower Key Stage 2

At KS2, this can develop into more explicit work on figurative language, introducing the literary terms simile and metaphor. This can be adapted and used for planning a poem.

In shared writing, ask the children to make a list of people they know well and the animals that they remind them of. Encourage them to think about the way they act as well as their physical appearance. Model this by using Anthony Browne’s example: My Dad is like a gorilla because he is powerful, fierce looking and gentle. This provides an opportunity to revise commas to separate items in lists. Ask the children to write a similar sentence on their individual whiteboards, using commas to separate the items in the list.

Next, ask the children to think of particular things the person does to remind them of that creature, for example: My brother roars like a lion when I tease him. My mum curls up like a cat when she is tired.

The class should now use their initial ideas to begin to shape a poem about either one person, or their whole family. More experienced writers could experiment with the order of words in each line: When my mum is tired, she curls up like a cat.

Upper Key Stage 2

For children in Years 5 and 6, adapt this sequence to focus on figurative language. Share the following sentences with the class:
  • My dad is a gorilla.
  • My dad is like a gorilla.

Explain that they are both examples of figurative language (comparing one thing to something else). The first is a metaphor and the second is a simile. On individual whiteboards, the children can write their own sentences about people they know, using similes and metaphors. Discuss which they prefer and why (some may prefer the metaphor as it can be a more powerful way of making a comparison).

Next, ask them to give an example of when they are like this animal, for example: My dad is a gorilla when he gently puts his arms around me.

Give the children the choice of continuing to compare the person to the same animal or changing the animal in each line or changing the person in each line. They will then create a poem with the line:
my … is a … when …
being repeated throughout. More experienced writers should be encouraged to adapt the structure of their poem.

Further work on idiomatic phrases could be undertaken following a reading of My Dad (Doubleday, £4.99 HB):
  • ‘daft as a brush’
  • ‘can swim like a fish’,
  • ‘eat like a horse’.

Children could create their own comparative sayings.

My Dad

Anthony Browne

Anthony shows the children his father’s dressing gown that reminds him so powerfully of his father. Invite children to bring in special objects of their own that remind them of particular people or times.

Ask them to write about the memories these objects conjure up. Alternatively, ask them to interview their parents or grandparents about special objects that may have been left to them. This could lead to a greater understanding of the significance that seemingly ordinary objects can have when they are attached to special memories.

The video and teachers’ notes have been adapted from the Anthony Browne DVD from have created a series of six DVDs, each with children conducting an interview with an author. The series includes interviews with Jacqueline Wilson and Anne Fine – see the website for more information.

Related resources

Take a look at our interview with Anthony Browne. Also, try the Author profile and extract from The Shape Game from the Child Ed PLUS resource bank.

Author profile: Anthony Browne

The Shape Game by Anthony Browne


  1. nabiha
    on 6 February 2016

    the tunnel

    I tink Anthony browne tells us lots of important things

  2. Tobias
    on 11 January 2015

    into the forest

    very good