Say cheese! by Frances Watts

cover image

Illus. by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. Scholastic, 2020. ISBN: 9781760664046. 32pp.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. When a group of students at the South Furriest Public School, line up to be photographed, Maxwell Mouse and his two co-workers know that their work is not going to be easy. They have been here before. At first they do the individual portraits, but all sorts of things seem to go wrong. The giraffe just doesn't fit into the frame, the frogs are too small and insignificant in the frame, while the snakes lie along the platforms without anything interesting to snap. The assistants need to come up with solutions so that the photos can be taken, and each time they find a neat resolution the results of which are shown on the next page with the words, 'Say cheese!' and a picture of the image taken.
Children will adore the animals and the problems with taking their photos and laugh at the solutions found by the mice. The next problem involves the cheetahs and tigers. And again children will laugh at the depiction of thee animals: the striped ones with striped tops and the spotted animals with spotted tops not happy at being photgraphed together. The solution? change some of the tops so the stripes and spots can coalesce. The meerkats will cause laughs of recognition as the trio turn up with mobile phones aloft, taking selfies, while the monkeys simply will not look a the camera.
All the hassles of the photographers will be easily recognised by the readers as they will have all been in school photographs, waiting for someone to smile, or look a the camera, or stop wriggling or not wearing the right clothes. Each solution is simple and funny, while the last few pages show the hardest photo of all to take: the class photo.
A whole lot of fun will be had reading this book aloud, while readers will laugh at the illustrations of the workaholic mice, trying to work under extreme difficulty. The animals are all identifiable making this a starting point to talk about different animals of the world. I love the paraphernalia of photographic equipment littering each page and the endpapers with their happy snaps of the animals in the room. A very funny look at a school event children will know well. Themes: Animals, School photographs, Photography.
Fran Knight