Salma gets out the ham, salad and cheese. She’s making her own lunch because her mum is busy with the three little ones. Salma makes the biggest, fattest sandwich ever.
Khalil puts on his shiny new shoes. He is excellent at tying his shoelaces. He can do double bows, even triple bows! He likes tying shoelaces more than anything in the world.
It’s the first day of school for 6 children and the first day back at school for one of the mums. Each child and family is introduced separately, with telling details about their personality and home structure. They travel to school and meet their teacher and the pages are crammed depictions of this first school day and the responses of individuals to the class and to each other. Alex’s dog visits and she has a brilliant idea. When their day is done, the children (and dog) all return home. Watercolour and pencil illustrations begin simply, then as the children move through their day, the images become a combination of group ‘shots’ and vignettes.
‘First Day’ was initially published in 1999, but loses none of its relevance in 2017. The children, from diverse homes, carry all the innocence, anticipation, trepidation and bravery that are displayed in any first day classroom. It’s a delight to see the classroom through the eyes of these young children and to remember that first days don’t ever stop. It’s Alex’s Mum’s first day back at ‘school’ and she carries many of the same emotions and fears as the children – a lovely thing for young children to understand. The illustrations invite empathy and model gentleness. Ideal for use at home and in the classroom. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.
First Day, Margaret Wild ill Kim Gamble Allen & Unwin 2017 ISBN: 9781760293918
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
ONE keen koala
ready for school.
One keen koala is ready for his first day of school. hH is joined by two perky penguins, three excited wallabies and so on, as they discover the fun of starting school. From posing for photographs, to meeting the teacher, to playing with paint and glue, having stories and, at the end of the day hurrying home to mum, the animals romp through the day.
With rhyming text by Margaret Wild and joy-filled watercolour and pencil illustrations by Bruce Whatley, this is an offering sure to be embraced by youngsters starting school, and their parents. It will withstand repeated rereadings, and the simplicity of the text will encourage children to join in on rereadings.
One Keen Koala, by Margaret Wild & Bruce Whatley
On my first day…
From dressing themselves, to eating breakfast, meeting new friends, counting, playing and even home time, My First Day at School takes youngsters through fairly typical things that happen on the first day of school. The use of a range of animal characters adds humour and interest. The character on the spread with the line “I dress myself”, for example, is a centipede, sporting brightly patterned socks on each of its numerous feet. Other spreads feature rabbits, dogs, owls, a rhino and more.
This use of the animal characters to illustrate what is very simple text does not remove it too far from children’s experience and the use of both familiar and less familiar animals – including a sloth, a puffin and a tapir (?) – creates room for discussion both about what is happening at school and about the animals themselves.
Perfect for a young child starting school, My First Day at School is a treasure from one of Australia’s bets loved creative teams in Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith.
My First Day at School, by Rosie Smith & Bruce Whatley