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Shirley Hughes is a prolific author and illustrator of children's books. She studied costume design at Liverpool Art School and later went on to the Russian School of Art, Oxford.
She began her career as a freelance artist, illustrating children's books by other authors. It wasn't until 1960 that she had her first book published for which she was the author and illustrator, 'Lucy and Tom's Day'.
Since then Shirley Hughes has created a number of popular characters in children's fiction, namely Alfie and Annie Rose and Dogger.
In 1999 she was awarded an OBE for services to children's literature.
~ The Story ~
This was first published in 1973 so was probably read to me before I started school in 1975 although my memories of childhood aren't great!
It is a story about Lucy and her younger brother Tom who were both too young to go to school so during the days they played in the garden, Lucy used to play pretend schools and sometimes Tom would pretend to be her pupil.
However there were times when Lucy felt bored and was desperate to go to school.......
Finally the day comes.
The book describes how Lucy has to find her peg in the cloakroom, what the classroom looks like with lots of interesting things to look at and play with etc...
At playtime, Lucy gets her milk and it describes the noisy children in the playground which can so often be intimidating to new starters!
Lucy's loved assembly and storytime but didn't really like one of the boys who kept pushing her around.
Lucy's little brother felt so jealous and desperate to go to school so as a compromise he joins a playgroup and loves it!
~ Format & Illustrations ~
The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of detail and action, particularly in the classroom scenes where all of the children are depicted as being engrossed and full of busy!
The drawings are generally in a sketch-like form and there's a mixture of coloured and non-coloured.
Most of the drawings take up a double page spread but there are also single characters on a large page.
The only slight downside to the drawings is the clothing. Written in the early 70s the clothes reflect the era. Although it does have to be said that the children in Nursery that I have read this to have not picked up on this.
~ Price ~
Paperbacks are currently retailing at £4.99 although mine was only £2.25 (shows how old it is!) It's worth checking out amazon where new and used copies are being sold for just 1p!
~ My verdict ~
Despite the slight old-fashioned clothing, this is still very appropriate to children born in the 21st century.
It outlines many of the things that children face on their first few days at school, assembly, break, playtime and even the more forceful members of the class.
Another thing that is mentioned in the story is a satchel, very popular when I started school in the early 70s but virtually non-existent nowadays!
This book has certainly stood the test of time and is well worth reading to children who are preparing for their first monumental journey in to school life!!
This is one of those good old faithfuls when it comes to children's story books, and continues to be a recommended book for young children. I am in two minds about it; I read it to my own 3 children (the eldest is 16, so that shows its age) and still read it to classes of children, mainly for PSHE.
The story is, not surprisingly, about two children, Lucy and Tom, who are not old enough to start school, but played teacher/pupil in the house; obviously, Lucy plays as the teacher and if Tom is good, he is one of the class. Brilliant stereotyping, but children don't seem to notice, and anyway, it seems to be ok because Lucy is the older sibling. Anyway, moving on...the children are often bored, and Lucy is tired of having only Tom as her playmate but it seems to be bearable because she knows she is nearly five and will therefore start school soon. She has all of her things ready, school uniform and satchel (haven't seen one of those in ages!). When Lucy starts school, she is a little bit afraid but her mum asks her to take care of her friend and be brave. When children gear this bit, they often pass comment about whether Lucy was right to be afraid and it is actually quite a good starting point for discussion on feelings about that first day at school. The activities Lucy is involved in are very close to children's own experiences- hanging her coat on a peg with a picture above it, playing in the shop (girls are doing this and then the mums leave to do their shopping!). Children can relate to the antics of the children at playtime and the noise; there are children playing, fighting, walking around or just talking. They read stories, colour pictures and sort shells. The story goes on to describe Lucy's favourite (music and movement, dressing up, assembly) and worst thing (Neil Bailey who kept pushing her).
It finishes with Tom who is now bored at home without Lucy, and who starts a playgroup on a morning where there are lots of children to play with. It emphasises the fun things Tom does and the fact that he loves school and runs ahead of mum every day to get to the playgroup.
The illustartions are double spread black and white then colour. The clothes the children and mothers are wearing are dated and children often notice this, but on the whole they are appropriate for the book although not the most stimulating for discussion. However, I don't think the book is reliant on the illustrations for discussion, and I would not recommend it for these.
READ OR AVOID?
I think this book has many good points.
It is a good starting point for many issues relevant to children:
1. Starting school/playgroup
2. What should we do if people push us in the playground?
3. Favourite activities
Some things the children may find strange are the fact that the teacher is sitting at a desk and "taking names" rather than "doing the register". I often have children asking why they have milk and why they are allowed to take it into the playground.
When I read it to a class of children I tend to change bits of the story and for example, when Lucy enjoys Assembly because of the hymns, I "read" that she enjoys it because of the stories.
It is a bit old fashioned but because it is still a bit of a mainstay in a lot of classrooms, I would read it if appropriate.
Picture Corgi (1986)
I have also seen it published by Carousel Puffin books, and I would imagine there are more!
First published by Victor Gollancz, 1973
Check out www.amazon.co.uk for a bargain!
OTHER BOOKS BY SHIRLEY HUGHES
Out and About
The Nursery Collection
When My Naughty Little Sister Was Good
Alfie Gets in First
Lots and lots of books by this author. Worth checking out especially for very young children. they seem to like the fact that a lot of the characters are young children like themselves, getting into scrapes and doing things they would do.
All good things for 2006