The Story of Fidgety Philip
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann

“The Story of Fidgety Philip” is a poem from the book “Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures” by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann. Published in 1845 in Germany, it’s the story of a boy who could not sit still at the dinner table. After reading the poem, students will answer questions on the language, the plot actions, and the rhyme scheme.

Topic(s): Humor. Skill(s): Summary, Context Clues, Rhythm & Rhyme. Genre(s): Poetry

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman
Let me see, if he is able
To sit still for once at table:
Thus Papa bade Phil behave;
And Mamma look’d very grave.

But fidgety Phil,
He won’t sit still;
He wriggles
and giggles,
And then, I declare
Swings backwards and forwards
And tilts up his chair,
Just like any rocking horse; –
“Philip! I am getting cross!”

See the naughty restless child
Growing still more rude and wild.
Till his chair falls over quite.
Philip screams with all his might.
Catches at the cloth, but then
That makes matters worse again.
Down upon the ground they fall.
Glasses, plates, knives, forks and all.
How Mamma did fret and frown.
When she saw them tumbling down!
And Papa made such a face!
Philip is in sad disgrace.

Fairly cover’d up you see!
Cloth and all are lying on him;
He has pull’d down all upon him.
What a terrible to-do!
Dishes, glasses, snapt in two!
Here a knife, and there a fork!

Philip, this is cruel work.
Table all so bare, and ah!
Poor Papa, and poor Mamma
Look quite cross, and wonder how
They shall make their dinner now.

Comprehension Questions

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