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Maddie’s First Day (Penny Matthews, illus by Liz Anelli, Walker Books)

Written for preschoolers who may be feeling nervous about their next educational chapter, Penny Matthews’ picture book takes us through the exhilarating journey of a little girl’s first day at school. With her arms waving in the air, Maddie looks as though she’s ready to leap out of bed at the prospect of new experiences. Her friends Charlie and Maya are meeting her at school and she has a new uniform with shiny shoes (she likes her hat best). With a lunchbox packed in her new bag, she walks to the gate with her daddy, but feels tummy wobbles at the sight of so many noisy children. There will be more tummy wobbles throughout the day but, luckily, Maddie remembered to bring her ‘blanky’ along for reassurance. This picture book takes an engaging, step-by-step approach to a very important milestone in a child’s life, and aims to familiarise children with various aspects of school life, from singing songs and eating lunch to playing chasey and counting blocks. Liz Anelli’s illustrations are bright and full of bustle and energy. Paired with Matthews’ words, which are age-appropriate for young vocabularies, the result is a well-conceived book that prepares preschoolers for what a typical first day at school may bring.

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue


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