As July comes to an end, I'm gut-wrenchingly aware that I'll be sending my first child to "big boy school" (as we call it) soon. Will he make friends? Can he handle structured chaos? How will his personality change? I find myself paralyzed by these questions, yet comforted by the fact that school is what propelled my love of reading and learning even further. It seemed fitting to highlight a school-inspired picture book in this week's blog.
Written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Simon Mendez, "Muddypaws Goes to School" tells the story of two inseparable friends. It is clear from the start of the book that Ben and his dog, Muddypaws, do everything together. So what happens when Ben has to go to school for the first time and leaves Muddypaws behind? Thanks to an unlocked gate, what follows is loveable, humourous, and teachable.
Bently's style of writing is fun and cute, and I appreciate the way he describes different sights and sounds. For example, when Muddypaws sneaks into the school's painting corner, little readers are instantly drawn into the scene with:
"Squish! went the red. Squirt! went the yellow and green. Squirt! went the blue."
My boys' favourite passage is when Muddypaws finds himself in the schoolyard digging up a mess:
"Scritch-scratch! Scritch-scratch! Scritch-scratch! Muddypaws dug and dug and dug."
Mendez's illustrations have a soft, painting-like quality to them. They certainly compliment the endearing content of the story. I like the way he drew realistic-looking characters. Reminds me of portrait drawings from talented sketch artists.
Readers will be sucked into the mischievous adventures that Muddypaws gets into, while also relating to Muddypaw's bond with Ben. Little ones are often bonded to their favourite stuffed animal, furry pet, sibling, or parents. This book gives little readers a chance to ask questions about friendship, times of separation, and the first day of school. It might even lead to broader conversations around separation anxiety and how that might feel.
"Muddypaws Goes to School" gets a big thumbs up from me! If you are looking for a cute first day of school book, this one is a fun choice. Stay tuned for more school-inspired picks in the coming weeks.