Thursday 14 February 2019

Ozzie Goes to School

Ozzie Goes to School by Jocelyn Crabb, illustrated by Danny Snell (Working Title Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781921504907

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Ozzie lives with his dad in a shipping container on the beach. He loves his life, even when the container is closed at night and it’s pitch dark inside. Nothing worries him, but when Dad says he must go to school, he’s afraid for the first time. When Dad says he must go, he promises to give it a try, but just for one week.

By recess on the first day, Ozzie does a runner. Back he goes to school to tell the class about the enormous barramundi he and Dad caught. When it’s time for maths, a frightened Ozzie does another runner! This happens again, but with small accomplishments at school, by Friday Ozzie is ready to run – not away from school, but towards it.

This is a simple story which is likely to be enjoyed by children ready to start school. There is a loving relationship between father and son who work together and who enjoy each other’s company. It’s interesting that it’s not being separated from his dad that’s Ozzie’s problem. Rather it is his fearful reactions to school subjects such as show and tell, maths and reading. We don’t get to know Ozzie’s teacher, Mrs Jocelyn, nor his classmates, but we’re told at the end of the book that Ozzie ‘liked recess and lunch, and the new friend’s he’d made.’

The attractive illustrations use lots of large coloured spaces showing Ozzie and his dad enjoying their beach-side life, as well as showing scenes in the classroom. Ozzie’s classmates are dark and light-skinned, a typical Australian scenario. The beach scenes are visually very appealing, especially the picture of Ozzie, with a back-pack, running along the shoreline under the palms, towards home.

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