The playground is like the jungle by Shona Innes

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Ill. by Irisz Agocs. Big Hug series. Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760064150
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Playground, Safety. Clinical and forensic psychologist Shona Innes has taken on the topic of safety in the playground at school or in the community, to help parents and teachers initiate discussions between themselves and students or offspring about the behaviour they will come across when socialising in these places. With funny and apt watercolour illustrations, Agocs parallels the information given, using animals as the focus of the story. Younger children will be enchanted seeing the animals and the behaviour they display and will be able to act this out for themselves, or discuss the sorts of animals they see in their playground.
Innes begins by showing what a fun place the playground can be with all sorts of people coming to it and displaying all sorts of behaviour. She parallels the wide variety of people with the animals in the jungle. So a baboon may bang his chest wanting to be noticed, a snake may pretend to be a friend one minute, then slither away, a tiger may be aggressive, and little insects annoying. Some will want to be alone, while others might want to be with friends, some may put on a happy face while others avoid those who make them uncomfortable.
Then we get to the crux of the story that if another animal makes them feel uncomfortable, then they can seek the company of others, or ask an adult to be with them, or yell loudly, or simply avoid the person who makes them fell ill at ease.
Much discussion will come of sharing this book with younger readers, all of whom will have come across the sorts of behaviours shown in this book.
At the end of the book Innes outlines her reasons for writing this book, as with the others in the series, The internet is like a puddle, Life is like the wind and Friendship is like a seesaw, all of which deal with specific issues that can engulf younger children.
Fran Knight
Editor's note: Teacher's notes are available on the author's website.