Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh (HarperCollins)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780007361410
Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

Marshall Armstrong is new to our school. He is different to me... His things are different to mine”

David Mackintosh’s new picture book explores the viewpoint of a child who is unimpressed that he must sit next to the new student in class. Immediately, the unnamed child makes some assumptions about Marshall, based on what he looks like, his belongings and his behaviour at school and decides that:“Marshall Armstrong doesn't fit in at our school.”

Through Mackintosh’s quirky illustrations and engaging story, we understand how it feels to be different  - to stand out and not be accepted. Marshall may often be alone, but he does not appear to be lonely. He accepts his differences, even seeming to celebrate them. We develop the impression that Marshall is a strong character and he certainly does not conjure feelings of sympathy from the reader.

When Marshall invites the whole class to his birthday party, his classmate laments all the things he believes they won’t be allowed to do because Marshall eats different food, doesn’t play sport or has to stay in the shade. He expects everyone, especially himself will have a terrible time.This is the turning point in the book where Marshall is finally accepted for being himself.

Children and adults will all enjoy this latest book by Mackintosh, who has predominantly illustrated the work of others. I certainly hope he continues to write and illustrate as I believe this title will be an asset to any home or school library.

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