Jellybean Goes to School
Random House 2013
pbk., RRP $A14.95
It is the most exciting time in a young child’s life and Jellybean is no exception – taking that big leap and starting school. She wants to read by herself and write by herself and find out why clouds are fluffy and spiders spin webs. But most of all she wants to find a friend, because while she has a baby brother, he’s not big enough for her yet.
Finally the BIG day arrives and, in her new uniform, she’s ready, although her tummy is so jittery that she can’t eat her breakfast. She is SO excited, until she sees the size of the school and the noise of the playground. Overwhelmed, like many on the same adventure, she thinks she might stay with her mum and brother after all. But Miss Benson is used to children with first-day nerves and introduces Jellybean to Alex, who is also not as confident. It’s easier to meet the world with a friend. Miss Benson also knows how to engage and enthuse the children for this new experience, easing them into all that is on offer in a way that the best Foundation teachers do.
Author, Margaret Roc has tapped into Jellybean’s feelings of apprehension perfectly and so has illustrator, Laura Hughes. At first, when they use the building blocks, Jellybean’s imagination has her far, far away in Rapunzel’s tower but as she and Alex and the other children explore what is on offer, she gradually moves into the here and now and imagines the possibilities of what this new place itself, can offer. The bright colours and familiar backgrounds will enable other Jellybeans to take the journey with her and gain security and comfort from knowing that all the other children are feeling the same.
This is such a lifelike book dealing with such a familiar subject, and one that is coming closer and closer for many that it is sure to have a wide appeal. Many schools are having transition programs as pre-schoolers learn what big school is really about, and having a library of these sorts of books so parents can borrow them to share with their child or preschool and Foundation teachers can use them to show that nerves are part of the deal, is one way the library can be involved in these programs as well as starting a productive relationship with the parents. “Jellybean Goes to School” deserves its place in that collection.