PICTURE BOOK CAROUSEL: Starting School
For many little people across the land, life is about to change forever. Starting school is one of the great landmarks of childhood, and though many children will appear unperturbed and quite confident, it is always wise to address the change in preparation. Thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful books to help parents do just that. Here are few newly-published titles:
(HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Emily is starting school tomorrow and she can’t get to sleep. All sorts of worries about school are keeping her awake. Her worrying conjures up the appearance of a magical fox, Foxy, who has a magical tail, allegedly at least, as his first attempts always seem a little muddled up: a penguin instead a pencil, clown shoes instead of school shoes. Foxy eventually delivers the right items but will he help attenuate Emily’s last minute jitters?
Emma Dodd’s signature bold style is always a winner with preschoolers. The use of colour here enhances the magic in the air when Foxy, and his gloriously orange fur, is around . There is plenty of humour and silliness to help wash away the worries of little readers, but Emily’s very real concerns are tackled nonetheless – all by magic apart from Emily’s last worry about not being able to make friends. No magic needed for that says Foxy – a lovely message about being oneself. Emily goes off to school without a heavy heart and with also a subtle hint that it is ok not to excel at everything and that practice makes perfect, so will all little readers after reading Foxy.
Foxy is very first in a new series and will undoubtedly become a family’s favourite.
Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo!
Emma Chichester Clark
(HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Lily is about to start school and of course she has asked her inseparable toy Blue Kangaroo to join her. But Lily is worried about Blue Kangaroo, whom she thinks is very nervous about going; secretly however he cannot wait to get discover this unknown and exciting world . When he inadvertently finds himself stranded at school, his dream comes true.
The eighth story in this popular and heartwarming series, Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! perfectly conveys the worries of children going to school. Like many children, Lily is projecting her own worries and anxieties about starting school on her loyal stuffed friend, and consequently common worries are introduced and tackled in a gentle way. It is a lovely reassuring tale, down to earth yet with a lovely magical twist at the end. Emma Chichester Clark’s use of colour is always a joy for the eyes, and I much admire her talent for creating intricate patterns, particularly in the clothes her characters wear.
Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! is the perfect tale for those children who might be keeping very quiet about their anxieties, but will be much enjoyed by all. The only issue is that, at the end, all readers will wish for their very own Blue Kangaroo!
Bobbo Goes to School
(Random House Children’s Books)
One morning feisty Lily is feeling particularly bad-tempered and after much fretting , she ends up throwing her beloved Bobbo on top of the school bus and is left to watch in horror as the bus drives off and takes Bobbo away. On arrival at school, Bobbo is nowhere to be found much to Lily and her mum’s despair. But Bobbo has been rescued by some school children and is having a great time spending a day in the classroom.
Shirley Hughes’ timeless artwork brings to life another beautiful tale of childhood, the second book of Lily’s adventures. The artwork records emotions wonderfully, particularly Lily’s mother’s growing despair and welcome relief at the end.
Bobo Goes to School brings a different perspective on school, which might be welcome by children who are a bit nervous about this imminent change. Lily is not of school age herself, but catches a glimpse of school life as she comes to the classroom to collect Bobbo. The toy alone is silent witness to all the wonderful things happening at school and lets audiences in on the secret. This brings a more detached, and less threatening, look at school life. But it also gives a hint at how exciting and enticing it might be. Subtle, but effective!
Hickory Dickory Dog
Zac and his dog Rufus are the best of friends and when Zac is off to school, Rufus has no intention of being left behind. The four-legged friend joins in all the activities of the day with glee whether it is painting or gardening, which leaves him filthy and in much need of a bath once the friends are finally home.
If you have not discovered Alison Murray’s warm retro style illustrations yet, you are missing quite something. Her style is perfect for preschoolers, with bold lines and a splendid use of colour. However, the success of this book does not only lie with the artwork but the text also. Alison Murray takes the traditional nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock and adapts it to tell an irresistible new tale. The pace of the traditional rhyme remains, which helps make the book a great read-aloud. The familiarity of the tale will delight young readers, who will enjoy the repetition of the text and the ease with which it can be remembered. Teamed with those beautiful illustrations, Hickory Dickory Dog is a joyous introduction to preschool.
This is Alison Murray’s third adaptation of a traditional tale. Look out also for Apple Pie ABC and One, Two, That’s My Shoe.
Lucky Wish Mouse: Starting School
There is much excitement on Sugar Lump Lane as all the tinies are getting for a great adventure: going to school. But the tiny twins are not sure; they are so tiny, they might just get lost. Lucky Wish Mouse offers plenty of reassurance and off they go to school …and have plenty of fun.
Originally published in 2010, Starting School is being reissued as a paperback and offers another beautiful crafted reassuring tale about starting school. The tiny twins find themselves doing things they didn’t they were able to, like having a go at writing their names or sitting still for storytime, and this will help address a common lack of confidence that many little readers might be feeling just before they start school. There is much comfort to be taken in stories using anthropomorphism, which always feel so much less threatening .
Anybody who knows Clara Vulliamy’s work will be aware of her attention to detail and this series showcases it beautifully. The classroom scene particularly, spread over two pages, portrays perfectly what a reception class will most likely look like, with plenty going on, and plenty of fun to be had. Every page however offers plenty to pore over, and young readers will be wowed by this gentle and merry tale.