EK Books, 2021
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Hugo the monkey doesn’t like Upside-Down Fridays. To be able to fit in sport, lunch time and morning tea time have been swapped on Fridays and Hugo’s routine is the wrong way round. So school has become a scary place full of uncertainty and despite his mother’s explanation and reassurance, Hugo is full of anxiety about what the day will bring. However, with just a small gesture of friendship and understanding from Maddie the giraffe, Hugo begins to feel braver.
Many children depend on the familiar routine of the school day to be able to manage the busy-ness, noise and movement of an environment so much bigger than their home, which is why many teachers now display each day’s timetable clearly so that those dependent on routine can adapt and adjust if they have to. For those who can adapt easily to change, it is often difficult to understand the anxiety of those who can’t so as well as supporting the routine-dependent by acknowledging their problem, this gentle story helps the others understand.
Using a common device of depicting Hugo as a monkey and his classmates as familiar jungle animals, the story remains one step removed from any particular child in the classroom enabling anonymity so further anxiety is not caused. It also offers the opportunity to discuss how normal and natural it is to be concerned about big changes such as going to school or hospital for everyone – we all feel anxious at times – and how to develop strategies to help ourselves and others to build confidence. How did Maddie know that giving Hugo a balloon would distract him?
Comprehensive teachers’ notes linked to the early years of the Australian Curriculum are available to make the most of this delightful story and its perfect illustrations.