The first day of school can be an uneasy time for students. Even though they are looking forward to their journey, the unknown poses a concern. This story describes the morning before school, and the first day, for Salma, Khalil, Stephen, Jun, Penny and Alex, and Alex’s Mum, who is also beginning studies. Salma makes a sandwich for herself as her Mum has three other babies. Khalil ties his shoelaces, he is so proud of this ability, and Penny jumps and jiggles around all the time.
After well-meaning advice from older siblings (“Don’t throw up on the carpet, and don’t wet your pants”), the children all make their way to the school room. As each child’s personality is revealed, their preference for activity is observed. Khalil and Jun race for the lego table, while “Penny tosses her bag in the air…then dive bombs onto a bean bag.” Here we see the skill and patience of the Junior Primary teacher as she caters to all the children’s needs.
In the morning, the children draw a picture of their family, and all the kids want to see Salma’s picture of the three fat babies. Following that, the teacher has a singing lesson which the children join in heartily. Many activities are discovered, and when Stephen dresses as a magician and wishes for a friend, he meets Salma and Alex. The day progresses and lunch time sees Penny chasing all the boys around the yard. Not at all worn out, Penny excels at the next lesson which is dance. Ms Manoli has captured her attention and interest and respect. The story continues after a rest, and it’s time to go home.
Margaret Wild has a wonderful ability to share a story, while addressing many issues. These begin at the start of the story and children will pick up the unease of Stephen, whose sister gave him the dire warning. The teacher noticed his many trips to the toilet, and said it was OK if he had an accident. This reassurance is all the way through the book. Alex was worried about her Mum being lonely at the University, and older than other students. Alex’s dog came to school and she sent him to find Mum. He proved to be a lovely ice breaker for Mum with the other students. Each child shows their individual traits, and each child is catered for.
Kim Gamble’s illustrations are once again a perfect match for the story. They are gentle and sensitive, yet reveal the outward zoom of Penny to the relief of Jun, when he finds out Ms Manoli will teach him maths. Together, this combination of author and illustrator, make a story come to life. Many a beginning student will find comfort and solace here.
|Author||Margaret Wild , illustrated by Kim Gamble|
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|
|Released||re released December 2017|