Ready, Steady, School! by Marianne Dubuc is the perfect book to share with children who will shortly be starting school. Every single page contains detailed illustrations packed with much to talk about and enjoy. It is a wonderful book that will reassure and entertain.
This large format book grabs your attention as soon as you see the front cover. The reader can see Pom at the centre of a busy hive of activity with animals involved in a variety of different pastimes. Already adult and child have plenty to talk about. Oops! Look, little wolf has dropped his book. What is squirrel counting? What kind of animal is that asleep next to the jigsaw? We are tempted to stop and look and this sets the scene for the rest of this lovely, search and find book.
As we turn the page we follow Pom, a small gnome whose gender is not specified, on an adventure through several different animal schools. Pom has to decide which school to go to next year but it’s going to be difficult to select one as they all appear to have so much to offer. Perhaps Pom’s school will be a combination of all of them. That would definitely be a reassuring message for small readers!
Each school depicts a different aspect of school life. The rabbits are learning to count, the frogs are being creative with arts and craft, the foxes are keeping fit playing different sports and (my favourite!) the wolves are enjoying reading and book chat in the library. Every double page spread is packed with appealing detail to explore and talk about. In addition Marianne Dubuc has hidden specific details for children to search for in every school. For example: an animal having a nap, an animal eating a snack or and animal visiting from another school. She has also included a character from a well known fairy tale enjoying life in each school. This adds an extra dimension to the sharing of the book and increases children’s involvement.
As a family we have enjoyed browsing this lovely book and my adult son commented that it reminds him of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town and What do People Do All Day, which he adored when he was little. He is right, it has a similar appeal. The style of the illustrations, familiar from Mr Postmouse and Up the Mountain, is clear and appealing to children. The translation by Sarah Ardizzone gives the text a conversational tone as though we are actually listening to the animals talking with little snippets of chats being overheard in different places. Each time you revisit a page you discover more.
Ready, Steady, School! is perfect for preparing little children for school. It will encourage and reassure and give parents and teachers an opportunity to talk about different aspects of school life. It is also great fun trying to find all the hidden animals and characters. There are some fantastic Teaching Notes created by Martin Galway of Hertfordshire Learning available to download from the Book Island website which provide ideas for a more structured discussion about the book. You may also enjoy this lovely video with Mariannne Dubuc giving more background to Ready, Steady, School!
Ready, Steady, School! was published in June and is now available to purchase at your local independent book shop or direct from the publisher, Book Island.