Starting school by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
Penguin, 2013. ISBN 9780670076765.
Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe and Polly are starting school and while each of them is having a unique experience, each experience is that of every other child who makes that big step to independence. Each double spread focuses on a different aspect - getting ready, meeting the teacher, making friends, finding their way around the school - all those things that loom large in the minds of littlies and which can be really daunting. But putting a personal face on them somehow makes them more manageable and not such a big deal. From being strangers at the start of the day, each has a new friend and plenty to tell their parents at the end of the day.
Anna Walker's gentle illustrations, especially those which run along the bottom of the pages, are the perfect accompaniment to a book that every child should experience before they start school. Apart from anything else, it will help them understand that the BIG problem that they are wrestling with is one that is shared by others and that there is a solution for it. Even if they follow a beetle at lunchtime and don't hear the bell, someone will miss them and find them and show them the way to where they should be.
As this school year winds down and transition visits from preschools begin, this is a perfect book to help the children prepare for this next step in their lives. Perhaps it could even be a model for the class to start its own book, documenting the adventures and emotions of those first few days. The children will look back on it twelve months from now and see how far they have come, and perhaps even share it with the new class!