Maddie's First Day by Penny Matthews
Ill. by Liz Anelli. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925381351
(Age: 4-5) Themes: Starting School. Penny Matthew's picture book Maddie's First Day explores the range of emotions this little girl encounters on this special day. She uses easy to understand descriptions of Maddie's happiness, her nervousness, worry and joy. Liz Anelli's lively images capture the warmth of the family environment, the overwhelming and noisy playground and the activity in the classroom. Different views, from bird's-eye to closeups capture the energy of Maddy's classroom, the engagement of the new students and the warmth and care of Miss Rose their teacher.
Waking up, Maddie looks very excited, she has a new uniform, shiny shoes and a backpack filled with new stationery. Dad's packed her lunchbox and Mum kisses her goodbye as she leaves for work. The decision to slip her favourite blanky in her bag is one that will cause some concern later in the morning. When her friend questions Maddie about her comfort toy, the little girl's tummy feels wobbly. Her worries grow as she can't read the writing on the whiteboard and her voice won't come out when they sing a new song. Luckily for Maddie, at recess Charlie her friend shows her something he has hidden in his backpack.
This picture book approaches that important day in a young child's life from waking up to going to bed. Penny Matthew's simple, descriptive story is reassuring and realistically shows the range of emotions a youngster can experience. The parents are shown as loving and caring, and the teacher is shown as understanding and willing to listen. From being overwhelmed to finding friends, playing in the yard, singing in class and circle time, Maddie's First Day is just right for pre-schoolers introducing them to a typical school day. This is a delightful story to share as a family, discussing Maddie's emotions and how she coped with the challenges.