Monday, February 20, 2012

School beginnings

This book, "Splat the Cat" has it all:

- an adorable feline
- a teacher called Mrs Wimpydimple
- alliteration with a tail that wiggled wildly with worry
- many novel excuses for not going to school  - "The front door won't let me out, Mum" or "The gate won't let go of my fingers, Mum." 
- a clever pet mouse called Seymour who lives with Splat
- a cat worried about starting school, who learns some amazing facts, saves the day with Seymour and looks forward to coming back to school!

Rob Scotton, the author and illustrator, has created a very likeable character, who is a little anxious about starting school.

My very likeable 8yo and 5yo characters drew some pictures of Splat with charcoal today. While I admire Scotton's incredibly detailed illustrations - look at the individual cat hairs on the cover! - I am equally awed by Tom and Annalise's 'smudged to perfection' charcoal cats!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Settling into school books

I thought I'd do a little series on settling into school, for all the little ones beginning school and for any anxious older ones. It is always comforting to know that others have gone before you, and have faced similar situations, regardless of whether you are a cat or a witch's child. In fact, sometimes the more fantastical the setting or character, the less 'preachy' or moralistic the story.

In this story,"The witch's children go to school" by Ursula Jones, the witch's children don't really go to school, but they meet Gemma who is about to have her first school day. But only if she is brave enough to move past the Class Three kids.

The oldest child of the witch has an idea - and uses a spell to change Gemma into an ogre, "because ogres aren't scared of anyone." The fun begins now - all teachers, caretakers, students and animals are turned one by one into a storybook creature - so that Gemma the ogre does not feel so alone.

The witch's children get a little carried away, and haven't learnt enough about spells to change anyone back.

"Now we've got trouble," mewed the school cat.

The only person who can help is Mum! So the witch's children summon Mum.

And the Eldest One shouted, "I've lost my pants."
"I can't find my dress," the Middle One wailed.
And the Little One yelled, "Where are my socks?"

Mum not only knows where the missing clothes are, but she knows how to turn the ogre, the storybook, the dancing princesses, the tiger, the swans, the gingerbread men and all the other storybook people back into students, teachers and the school cat.

Russell Ayto's illustrations are hilarious - there are definitely no traditionally scary witchy figures here at all. Lots of bright colours and active characters. My favourite double page spread is the one with the three open-mouthed children, shouting for Mum.

It was a bit like that at 5.30pm in our house today!