Maddie's first day by Penny Matthews

cover image

Ill. by Liz Anelli. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925381351
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Schools, First day, Friends, Family. Before Maddie's first day at school, the family has prepared her for this big event, buying her uniform, buying a new backpack and filling it with new pencils, an art smock and a water bottle. Into this backpack is also her blanky, added once her parents were not looking. On the day, Dad makes her lunch, and she says goodbye to Mum. Once at the school gates with Dad, her tummy starts to wobble as she sees the number of other children, and not one that she knows. She puts her backpack into her locker, but takes out her blanky as she does. Other children see her and are rude about her actions, and when she sits with the group they tell her that the blanky should be left at home. But one of the group, Charlie takes her to the lockers where he shows her his backpack and inside is his blanky. The two remain together for the rest of the day, playing, learning, reading and drawing, and when Mum collects Maddie, she can tell her that she had the best day ever. At home that night, blanky is put into a drawer where it belongs.
A charming story of learning to fit in, of facing fears, of finding friends will appeal to all children. The first day jitters is a shared concern and this book allows younger readers to think about and discuss their qualms about going to school for the first time. Being involved in anything for the first time is always accompanied by a certain amount of concern and the skills learnt through this book will help children see that there are many first times and friends and family will support and share those concerns.
The soft illustrations, created with mixed media, draw the children's eyes to things they recognise, comparing Maddie's experiences with their own. Readers will love the detail, Maddie's house, her backpack, the walk to school, the view of the school yard, the classroom. Each page shows a view both known and different and readers will enjoy the visit that each page offers. I love the classroom photo at the end showing the range of children within the group.
Maddie's first day offers a range of things to discuss in the classroom, fears, friendship, bullying, first days, and being in a new school.
Fran Knight