Love

Love
Corrinne Averiss and Kirsti Beautyman
Words & Pictures

Young Tess is part of a loving family – love surrounds her like the ‘light inside one of Daddy’s little houses.’

However, when the time comes for her to start school, the worries creep in. School is big and scary – nothing like that warm scarf that she feels wrapping around her when she goes out with her parents. Will the love still find her?

Her mother tries reassuring her saying as they part by the gate, that love will still find her even when they’re apart “like a string between us – it can stretch as far as it needs to.”

Tess though isn’t sure. Her understanding teacher offers some comfort – ‘Tess noticed a little thread between them. That felt nice.’

Little by little she continues discovering new strings of connectedness, friendship and love throughout the day.

Come hometime though, the anxiety returns when her mother is late to collect her.: that string doesn’t appear to be connecting Tess to anything or anyone. Finally, however, there with an explanation and a string-fixing hand, stands Mummy and all is well once more.

Enormously reassuring for young children who experience separation anxiety, Corrinne cleverly uses the string trope to make tangible the bond between loved ones in her story. But she makes it all the more impactful – love connects us no matter the distance between us – with her own ‘candle house’, ‘warm scarf and other metaphors. Employing a limited colour palette to great effect, Kirsti Beautyman’s sequence of textured illustrations are full of feeling, be that love, tenderness, worry, or empathy.

Why Do I Poo? / Freddie the Fox Feels Frightened

Thanks to Booklife Publishing for sending these: it’s always good to discover a new publisher.

Why Do I Poo?
Kirsty Holmes
Booklife Publishing

Bodily functions and in particular, poo, seem to hold an endless fascination for young children; mere mention of the word often elicits giggles among those in a reception class or nursery group; and with a cover like the one on this book, I’m sure it will arouse interest straight away.

Actually the whole book isn’t about poo; rather it offers a straightforward look at the workings of the human digestive system, (using a pizza as exemplar)

along with some other poo-related information such as that ‘poo gives off methane and that can be burned to produce power for our homes’, as well as powering buses. Also, animal poo is useful as a fertiliser for plants and, since it contains a lot of fibre, can also be made into paper – not human poo but that of sheep, elephants and even pandas.

After a look at other waste products we make,

there’s a spread on poo-related tummy troubles, as well as one inviting you to ‘rate your poo’ (using the Bristol stool scale). Don’t try that if you’re suffering from those tummy troubles though.

If your little ones are feeling quizzical, then they might like to try matching the poo piles to the four animals illustrated on the opposite page.

The book concludes with a glossary and index. Are you ready, steady, air freshener to hand? …

Freddie the Fox Feels Frightened
John Wood and Danielle Jones
Booklife Publishing

This is one of the Healthy Minds series aimed at the foundation stage and would work either shared at home or with a nursery group.

The author uses a narrative style to explore Freddie’s feelings on the evening before and morning of Freddie’s first day at school.

Despite Andy’s reassurances, Freddie goes to bed feeling frightened about what the next day might bring. So much so that he has a scary dream about being fired from a cannon, his fall being watched by countless pairs of eyes.

When the two leave for school, Freddie takes with him his comfort blanket and even so Andy is concerned that he looks rather unwell; he certainly feels that way on account of his fears of what might happen when they arrive.

His procrastinatory tactics take the two on a rather longer than expected route and during their journey Freddie talks more about his feelings.

Eventually the wet, muddy pair arrive just in the nick of time, with Freddie’s tail all a-tremble and his heart beating fast. Andy continues to reassure him as he opens the door

and following her instructions he counts to ten, looks around and very quickly finds himself absorbed in the children’s game.

With questions to ponder during the story and more to discuss afterwards, this book is, like Andy’s words to Freddie, a reassuring one to use with those soon to start school (or a nursery class). Danielle Jones’ bright, uncluttered illustrations show how both Freddie and Andy feel throughout and should help allay those pre-first day fears in little humans.

Mae’s First Day of School / No Frogs in School

Mae’s First Day of School
Kate Berube
Abrams Books for Young Readers

I loved the author’s Hannah and Sugar book and this one is equally charming.

It’s Mae’s first day at school and she definitely does not want to go.
En route while her mum enthuses about all the fun things school has in store, Mae worries about all the possible bad things that might happen: the other children won’t like her, she’s she only one unable to write; she’ll miss her mum.

Once at school she hides in a large tree, refusing to come down; but then somebody else joins her; it’s Rosie another reluctant new pupil.

After a while, some of the other children go inside; not so the tree climbers. Suddenly up the tree comes a tall lady, Ms Pearl.

It’s also her first day and she too is worried. Suppose the children don’t like her, supposing she forgets vital spellings; suppose she misses her cat …

As well as her list of worries though, Ms Pearl has some reassuring words for Mae and Rosie. Perhaps rather than becoming tree dwellers they should venture down and go in together for their first day …

A reassuring, first day story that’s perfect for those just starting in a reception class. It’s full of charm and gentle humour; Kate Berube’s expressive illustrations portray those first day nerves wonderfully well.

No Frogs in School
A LaFaye and Eglantine Ceulemans
Sterling

Pet loving Bartholomew insists on taking one of his animals to school every day. On Monday it’s Ferdinand frog but the creature causes havoc in the art lesson so teacher Mr Patanoose bans frogs.

On Tuesday Sigfried salamander needs company so off he goes with Bartholomew (after all he’s not one of the banned animals). However he too causes classroom chaos and is put on the banned list along with all other amphibians.

Wednesday sees a hamster in the classroom via the pocket on Bartholomew’s bag but the creature gets out and the consequence is a ‘no rodents in school’ rule.

A snake is Thursday’s school visitor and the outcome is a ban on reptiles.

Friday is show and tell day but ‘no pets’ is what Mr Patanoose firmly insists. Now surely it wouldn’t hurt to take Rivka rabbit along would it, thinks Bartholomew.
But can he get away with taking a soft furry mammal for the event? After all he’s something of a rule subverter …

Fun and also informative is this story of classroom chaos and a pet-loving boy who tries to keep one step ahead of his teacher. The energetic illustrations are zany and full of things to enjoy.

Little Owl’s First Day / This is the Way We Go to School

Little Owl’s First Day
Debi Gliori and Alison Brown
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Leaving a parent to begin school or nursery for the very first time, particularly when a younger sibling is still at home, can be a bit bothersome for little ones and so it is for Little Owl.

We first met the delightful character when a new sibling arrived and now he’s facing his first day at school.

When he wakes up on the big day, he isn’t feeling full of excitement as his Mummy Owl anticipates; instead the little fellow doesn’t even want to get out of bed. “I want a small day. I want to stay at home with you and Baby Owl,” he tells her.

After a lot of cajoling, they’re all ready to sally forth but then Little Owl is reluctant to pick up his new owlbag. Eventually, with Little Owl calling the tune, he sets off pushing his baby in the pram while Mummy carries his bag.

At the school door Miss Oopik is ready with a welcoming greeting; and reassuring farewell’s over, Little Owl is gently encouraged to try his wing at painting.

His picture is Mummy and Baby Owl moonbound in a rocket, and they seem to occupy his every thought for a considerable part of the morning until snack time is announced. And then it looks as though Little Owl might just have found a friend as he and Tiny Owl share the contents of their owlbags with one another.

The rest of the session seems to pass in a flash before Miss Oopik calls them all together for a story.

Soon, who should be waiting outside but Mummy and Baby Owl; but Little Owl is much too sleepy to tell them all about how he spent his time.

Debi Gliori’s gently humorous tale is a real situation soother that will embrace a first timer like a warm comfort blanket, especially since it’s woven together with Alison Brown’s scenes of adorable strigine characters small and not so small.

This is the Way We Go to School
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

Ideal for little ones about to start, or already at nursery or playschool, is this board book version of a favourite song, complete with sliders. With these your child can help the little tigers in the early morning to get out of bed; eat their breakfast, brush their teeth

and walk to school, where they smilingly wave a farewell to their parents before rushing inside to join their friends.
In addition to the sliders that facilitate getting up, teeth brushing and waving, there’s a wheel to turn that brings into view a host of other animals all hurrying schoolwards.

Both the tigers’ home, and the journey to school spreads have plenty of interesting details for little humans to spot and discuss.

Inside the front cover, is a QR code to scan onto a phone or tablet and download that provides a sing along version of the song.

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