My cool plastics cupboard by Maggie Dent

cover image

Ill. by Linda True-Arrow. Pennington Publications, 2015. ISBN 9780975845684
(Ages: 1-3) Maggie Dent is a parenting writer and speaker so it is no great surprise that this seems to target parents more so than young children. It is written from the perspective of a two-year-old boy who has his own plastics cupboard filled with things that he is allowed to play with while remaining close to his Mum in the kitchen. The little boy tells us about what he can do in the plastics cupboard (sorting, stacking, exploring shapes, investing new and unusual objects and making noise), emphasising to parents the skills that children can practice through free play with the world around them (rather than expensive toys). The watercolour illustrations, while not particularly beautiful to look at, are realistic and highlight the child's wonder in the objects he finds in his cupboard.
The voice of the child is informal (with an oft repeated - but not suited to the target audience - 'How cool is that?') but it doesn't prevent it being rather bland. This is probably due to its length (it is a long story for the target age group - which is very small as older children will have no interest in a baby playing in a container cupboard) and the many subliminal 'parent messages' (eg., 'I like playing in the plastics cupboard with my mum close by' and 'My mum came over and explained that it was a whisk'). However, it is a fantastic idea to write a picture book about the container cupboards that most young children enjoy as it is such a relatable experience for them.
Nicole Smith-Forrest