So many wonderfuls by Tina Matthews

cover image

Walker Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781922077516.
Highly recommended for three to five year olds and for Early Years' classes. Themes: Community, Cities, Urban Life, Geography, Poetry. Tina Matthews creative process started from a few pencil sketches of an imaginary town and led her to the creation of a wonderful town with so many places to explore. She uses lyrical poetry with each stanza's first and fourth line rhyming - an envelope rhyme. Her encouragement at the start is 'So don't hurry by Hold your horses slow down!' Each simple rhyme is accompanied by detailed scenes of town life. There are people to talk to and places to play, the beach, the park, school, shops, a wonderful tree, a community hall and a library truck. There is both a sense of happiness and purpose shown in the townsfolk. Just like a look and find book, the small details are just as important as the overall scene. The structure of the town with care taken to explore different depths, perspectives and views draw the young reader into the story.  
On the school page the classroom has so many elements to investigate, the students are engaged in a lesson about the lunar cycle with wonderful props and costumes. Through the windows we observe the school garden and townsfolk engaged in their everyday lives. Inclusivity is gently portrayed, raised garden beds for a student in a wheelchair, a blind mother, even a gopher is parked on the sandy beach. All ages and stages of life are drawn with a sense of understanding and belonging.  Matthews use of a pastel palette and deliberate choice to add colour to a section of each illustration is another great talking point to engage young readers. The beach scene where no-one is wearing hats also leads to discussion.
This is a richly rewarding picture book, a must buy for teachers of Geography. Students are introduced to my place in space, my special places, community life, maps and perspectives in an easy to understand way.
Teacher notes are available.
Rhyllis Bignell