Friday 9 December 2022

Going to Big School

Going to Big School by Laura Sieveking, illustrated by Danielle McDonald (Scholastic) HB RRP $18.99 ISBN: 9781761201585

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Ava is excited to start ‘big school’, but Jack feels nervous. When the bell rings, Ava races to the front of the line, while Jack clings to his mum. In the classroom, Ava makes Jack laugh, and the two children colour in pictures together. During the afternoon, when the children are allowed to play with the classroom toys, Ava and Jack enjoy building block towers so much that Jack doesn’t feel scared or shy anymore.

In this gentle story aimed at three-to six-year-olds, Laura Sieveking juxtaposes two very different experiences of the first day at school in order to normalise children’s feelings about this momentous occasion. Effortless first-person text draws the child reader deep into the mind and emotions of each character, while the clever use of two distinct fonts ensures that youngsters always know whose perspective they are seeing.

Danielle McDonald’s cartoon-like illustrations are bold and bright, and they visually entwine the idea of school with the concepts of pleasure and positivity. Her contrasting characterisations of Ava and Jack celebrate diversity and reveal that skin colour is no barrier to fun and friendship.

A perfect present for any child who is about to begin kindy or prep, Going to Big School will pave the way for a settled start to the school year. This book is sure to be read again and again as children seek to settle the fluttering butterflies in their tummy.

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