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The Gift of Friendship: The Quangle Wangle's Hat (Edward Lear)

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider that friendship is a precious gift.

Preparation and materials

  • A copy of 'The Quangle Wangle's Hat' by Edward Lear.
  • Familiarize yourself with the story of Zacchaeus, found in Luke 19:1-10.
  • Optional: children could design and make masks for each animal mentioned in the poem.
  • Optional: illustrations showing Lear's cat Foss and a self-portrait.


1. Read 'The Quangle Wangle's Hat' out loud. Ask how many of the children have pets? What kind of pets are they? What are their names?

Listen to a range of answers.

2. Ask if any of the children would like to have one of the animals mentioned in this poem as a pet. Ask which one they would like and the reason for their choice.

Listen to a range of answers.

3. Explain that 'The Quangle Wangle's Hat' was written by a man called Edward Lear. He lived over 100 years ago, in the 19th century, and he was an artist. He travelled all over the place, painting pictures to sell to make his living. He also wrote many silly poems to make people laugh. Edward Lear was the first person to write and illustrate a book just for children. Eventually, he grew quite rich, and built a splendid villa looking out over the Mediterranean Sea. He had several servants. Yet, despite all this, Edward Lear was a rather unhappy man. Ask the children why they think he could have been unhappy.

Listen to a range of answers.

4. Explain that Edward Lear’s main problem was that he was lonely. He never got married and he never had any children. He was often ill and he also thought that he had an ugly face. He couldn't believe that anyone would really like him and because of this he was very shy. However, he did have several pets. The most famous of them was his enormous tabby cat, Foss.

Show picture of Foss, if available.

Point out that Foss only had half a tail, but Edward Lear loved Foss. He drew lots of pictures of him and gave him his own coat of arms. He was deeply sad when Foss died. In many ways, Foss was his best friend.

5. 'The Quangle Wangle's Hat' may seem like a funny poem, but it is also rather sad. We know that The Quangle Wangle is really Edward Lear, as you can see from Lear's drawing of himself. At the beginning of the poem he is all alone, but along come Mr and Mrs Canary, followed by another animal, then another, until the poem ends in a great jamboree of animal friends:

And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
And all were as happy as happy could be,
With Qwangle Wangle Quee.

Lear would have liked to live like this, surrounded by friends, but he never made many - except, perhaps, for Foss.

6. Jesus told a story about a man who didn't have many friends. His name was Zacchaeus. Perhaps some of you have heard his story. Zacchaeus was a rather mean person whom no one liked. But when Jesus became his friend and invited himself into Zacchaeus's house for tea Zacchaeus changed. Instead of being mean, he became generous. And, guess what ... after that, people began to like him better.

Time for reflection

Everybody feels lonely sometimes. Everybody needs friends. Everyone needs to feel loved and valued by other people. If we feel unloved or as if we don't have friends then we become sad. So, next time you read or hear a poem by Edward Lear, think of the gentle but unhappy person that wrote it and be thankful for the people that love you.

Let’s think of the people who are special friends. Picture them in your mind. Say thank you to God for these friends.
Let’s think about someone you know who, perhaps, doesn't have many friends. Is there anything that you could do to help that person find a friend?
Finally, let's think about how Jesus loves and cares for everyone.


'When I needed a neighbour were you there?' (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: December 2015   (Vol.17 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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