Lulu’s First Day / Butterflies on the First Day of School

Lulu’s First Day
Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw
Alanna Max

Lulu is starting pre-school and she’s already been well prepared. There have been lots of story time sessions at the library, a visit to the school, and special gifts from Nana and Tayo that she’ll use regularly for school.

She’s even chosen her clothes for the next day and packed extras in her new bag – just in case.

The big day dawns, everybody is up early and with a pause for a quick photo, off she goes with her mum.

There’s a warm welcome from her teacher and Lulu is soon enjoying all that nursery has to offer.

Almost before you can say, ‘circle time’, there she is on the carpet with all her friends and the grown-ups are waiting outside eager to hear of those new experiences.

Yes, its’ been a tiring day, but Lulu can’t wait for tomorrow …

With all the reassurance that little ones need, Anna McQuinn and Ros. Beardshaw present the pitch perfect book for those who, like Lulu, are about to take those next steps into pre-school.

Butterflies on the First Day of School
Annie Silvestro and Dream Chen
Sterling Children’s Books

An enchanting fanciful take on a well-known figure of speech is presented in this story of first day nerves.

Rosie has been eagerly anticipating starting school for a whole month but on the night before her big day, doubts creep in and next morning she announces that she doesn’t feel well.

Her mum tells her it’s just butterflies in her tummy and when she sits chatting rather nervously on the school bus to another new girl, butterflies (seen only by Rosie) flutter from her mouth. Now she understands her mum’s puzzling comment.

More butterflies are released, also seen only by Rosie, every time she opens her mouth in the classroom during that first session,

until by playtime her tummy is less rumbly and she can barely feel any more butterflies.

Out go the children to play, Rosie feeling pretty confident now. Then she notices another little girl standing alone under a tree, hands on her tummy. Rosie introduces herself and when the forlorn-looking girl speaks, a cloud of butterflies come fluttering from her mouth.

With its bold bright butterfly images this is a lovely warm story that will reassure little ones who like Rosie are starting school imminently, along with adults who may well share that first day feeling.

Zeki gets a Checkup / My First Day

Zeki Gets a Checkup
Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson
Alanna Books

Lulu’s little brother is now a playful toddler drinking from his own cup and feeding himself. It’s the day he’s going for a health check and having helped pack his bag, Daddy and the infant are ready to visit the clinic.

Once there they have to wait their turn so Zeki is glad he’s got his favourite Mister Seahorse to play with but it’s not too long before it’s their turn.

Zeki is happy to show what he can do; he’s weighed and measured, has his eyes, ears and heart checked

and is given a jab to help him stay healthy. He leaves with a well-deserved sticker, a new book and a cheery farewell wave from the health practitioner.

Full of warmth, reassuring, and as with all the books in this series, inclusive and beautifully portrayed.
Definitely one to add to the bookshelves of those with toddlers be that at home or in a nursery setting.

My First Day
Amber Stewart and Layn Marlow
Oxford University Press

This is one of the newly packaged My First Milestones series and features little duckling, Puddle who, along with his two friends is about to start nursery school. Having eagerly anticipated the big day since he was ‘barely more than an egg’, when it finally arrives the little duckling is more than a tad nervous.

His Mummy Duck however, has taken steps to ensure things go smoothly. She offers words of reassurance and packs into his school bag things that will remind him that she’s never far off: one of her soft feathers, his favourite nibbles, some biscuits to share with his friends

and his Cuddly for afternoon rest time.

Creative activities fill the rest of the day and before you can say, ‘going-home time’ there waiting is Puddle’s very own Mummy Duck with a warm hug.

It’s not nerves but excitement that causes the duckling’s heart to go pitter-patter that night as he anticipates his next day at duckling school.

A sweet story, told in a direct manner that expresses so well Puddle’s feelings, beautifully illustrated with scenes of the riverside in spring, this is just right for sharing with children about to have their own first day at nursery.

I’ve signed the charter  

Barkus / Lulu Gets a Cat

Barkus
Patricia Maclachlan and Marc Boutavant
Chronicle Books
Meet large brown dog, Barkus, “Smartest dog in the whole world.” So says globetrotting Uncle Everton when he arrives on the doorstep one day with what he calls “a present” for the young narrator, his niece Nicky. Nicky is reassured to learn that Barkus doesn’t bite and thus begins a beautiful friendship.
Over the next four short chapters we learn how Barkus follows Nicky to school and is adopted as the class dog; celebrates his birthday in a very noisy manner;

discovers a kitten and is allowed to keep it, naming it Baby; and finally, camps out for the night and enjoys an autobiographical story by torchlight.

The five amusing episodes are linked but the separate events provide suitable stopping points for readers just embarking on early chapter books.
Marc Boutavant provides appropriately cheery, retro style illustrations that range from full page to vignette.
All in all an upbeat, engaging read about family, friendship and the benefits of having a winningly positive attitude to life and its possibilities.

Lulu Gets a Cat
Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw
Alanna Books
In her latest story Lulu wants a cat and sets about showing her mum that she’s ready to have one by doing some research on their care and putting in some practice on her cat toy. Eventually Mum is persuaded and off they go together to the cat shelter.

There, Lulu doesn’t so much choose a cat, but is chosen by one of those she’s shown.
Cat shelter worker, Jeremy provides some helpful advice; they go home and make preparations; and return next day to collect the new pet. Lulu gives her cat the beautiful name, of Makeda, which means African Queen and after a period of adjustment, it’s not long before Makeda is well and truly settled into her new home.

Lulu never fails to delight: this new story, endorsed by the National Cats Adoption Centre, ticks all the boxes for showing the very young that becoming a pet owner involves considerable responsibility, as well as introducing the basics of adopting a cat.

I’ve signed the charter  

Seeds of Friendship, Flowers of Love

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The Seeds of Friendship
Michael Foreman
Walker Books
Adam, new to high-rise city life, certainly does sow the seeds of friendship in more ways than one in this uplifting modern fable. Adam however, has come from a distant part of the world and his parents helped him keep his memories alive by sharing stories that he responded to by making pictures of the fauna and flora of his old home country.
Outside meanwhile, everything looks grey and cold and his shyness prevents him from leaving his tower block and making approaches to the children he sometimes sees below. But then one morning his view outside is completely blocked by frosty patterns on his window. He does what most children find irresistible– draws pictures on the windows, not only his own but every one available; pictures of animals that live in the frozen forest ‘canvas’ nature has already created for him.

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That night snow falls and next morning Adam ventures out into a wonderful world of white where other children are making a snowman. Brrr!

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But Adam builds something completely different and surprising to the others, who are soon drawn into a co-creative enterprise on a very large scale.

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A few days later when Adam starts his new school, he discovers some of his new-found friends and he finds something else equally important and exciting – a garden. Not a large one, but one from which his teacher gives Adam some seeds to take home: seeds that grow and multiply so that after a few months, Adam is able to invite his friends home where they all help him create a glorious roof garden. And we all know what seeds have a tendency to do – SPREAD – which is just what happens here. Thanks to teamwork, Adam and his friends transform the whole locality into a gloriously glowing city of gardens

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whose colours will be different every season –that and those seeds of hope and friendship which can go on for ever …
Just perfect – what more needs to be said.

For a younger audience is:

 

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Lulu Loves Flowers
Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw
Alanna Books
The adorable Lulu is back with a book-inspired activity: this time she wants to be like Mary Mary in her favourite poem from the garden poems anthology.

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So, armed with library books on gardening, and help from her Mummy with the buying and planting of seeds, her garden is under way. Though of course those flowers won’t grow up overnight, so in the meantime Lulu decides to make her own flower book, string some shells and beads and make a little Mary Mary character of her own. Then one warm, sunny day, joy of joys, her flowers have opened to greet the sun.

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Time to hang up those shiny bells, Lulu, before your friends come round to see that special garden and to share some of the produce.
Absolutely charming – both words and pictures are full of warmth; and as always Lulu is such a good advocate for books and libraries. Would that every young child had parents like her ready to encourage and support all those activities that are so important for young children – reading, writing, growing things and developing their creativity.

Use your local bookshop localbookshops_NameImage-2

Family Friendly Books

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Freddy and the Pig
Charlie Higson and Mark Chambers
Red Squirrel Books
School is anything but Freddy’s favourite place; he’d far rather be at home playing games on his Xbox. So he devises a clever plan, one involving a porcine substitute. This allows young Fred to stay lounging at home, racking up his levels on Total Death War, all the while growing more and more rotund. Pig meantime grows to love school and is even sticking up his trotter in class;

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he’s helpful around the house too. Soon it is hard for Mum to distinguish boy from pig so massive is Freddy

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and so grunt-like his utterances. Eventually she sells her son to a local farm and sends the pig to university though that’s not quite the end of the story.
This amusing cautionary tale is one of the latest additions to the Red Squirrel dyslexia-friendly books, the hallmarks of which are good stories, well illustrated and presented in a clear type face set against a plain, uncluttered background so that all parents can share them with their children.
Buy from Amazon
In the same series is:

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Wolf Man
Michael Rosen and Chris Mould
Red Squirrel Books
Just what or who are all the terrified local residents running from? It’s Wolfman and he’s escaped from his cage and is rampaging through the town, tearing up paving stones and consuming lamp-posts.

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Even the army is too terrified to do anything: but where is Wolfman heading to? It’s certainly not the park, nor the swimming pool. Wait a minute, that’s the house of the Chief of Police our hairy horror is making for, where, behind firmly closed doors cowers the jittering policeman.
So exactly what has compelled Wolfman to come here leaving a trail of havoc in his wake?

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Suffice it to say it is connected to a weak bladder and an urgent need.
Typical Michael Rosen madness – slightly over the top and deliciously subversive; just the thing to make less than confident readers want to keep turning the pages, especially when his well chosen words are combined with Chris Mould’s wickedly wacky images.
Assuredly one to help families ‘Grow a Love of Reading’ which is what this series aims to do.
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Where better place to start growing that love than:

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Zeki Loves Baby Club
Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson
Alanna Books pbk
We join Zeki and his mum at home before they set off for their regular Wednesday Baby Club session at the local library. There they meet lots of other babies and parents, and the club leader who has brought all manner of exciting instruments, some props and her repertoire of suitable toddler songs and rhymes. This week, after greeting one another,

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they sing the happy song with actions, play peek-a-boo (with translucent scarves to peep through) and join in the ‘stretchy’ and ‘rolly’ songs. Then it’s time for some noisy  fun with cuddly animals,

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more action rhymes and a final cuddle-up story before bidding farewell and ‘see you next time’ to all those friends.
At the end of the narrative, are the words of all the songs and rhymes mentioned plus some useful presentation tips and other information for adults.
All in all, this charmingly illustrated, sturdy book is a lovely opportunity to enjoy a simple story with the very youngest and to have a wonderful sing-along session too.
A great choice to give to new parents.
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Buy from your local bookshop:

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