If you have a child who will soon be starting school, Tom & Small is a great story to help prepare them for the experience. It acknowledges the initial fears that a child may have before giving a positive impression of the experience. My daughter received this book for her second birthday, it is a favourite that she often goes back to and we read it regularly before she started kindergarten.
The Story: It is the night before Tom starts school, all his new things are ready but he can’t sleep. He confides his worries and concerns to his toy mouse, Small, and finally falls into a restless sleep. Then Small calls Tom’s name and as Tom falls out of bed he shrinks to the size of his friend. They have fun playing together with Tom’s toys before boarding his toy plane. Bravely they fly out of the window and over Tom’s school. They look through the classroom window and Tom sees his name on his peg. Back home Tom is reassured and the following day he has such a lovely time at school that he can’t wait to go back again!
As a reception teacher I think that this is a great book to read to children before their first day of school. Clara Vulliamy acknowledges Tom’s worries before his fantastical night time adventure starts and this reassures a child that it is normal to be a bit apprehensive. At the beginning of the story Mum also prepares Tom for the fact that Small won’t be able to come with him to school as Small may get lost, leaving behind a familiar soft toy is often a common problem for a small child to deal with and I think it is great that this element has also been included.
Then the adventure (which may or may not be a dream!) starts and the fun and reassurance begins. My daughter loves the pictures of Tom and Small playing together, we especially like the picture of Small dressing up in the dolls’ house. The easy to read text includes lots of dialogue and is supported by a variety of different sized pictures. There is a beautiful double page spread with Tom and Small flying in front of a big silver moon but smaller pictures show the new things that Tom has for school and another page shows different classroom activities. My daughter likes looking for Tom in the classroom and is particularly interested in matching the children’s paintings to the children in the class. The classroom scenes show children having fun and when Mum picks Tom up he is not scared about school any more.
I think that this story covers all the emotions that can be present before a child starts school but the addition of the fantasy element adds reassurance and the book ends on a very positive note.
I hope that all little people starting school have a great first day and want to go back again tomorrow!
Age Range: 3 +
Author / Illustrator: Clara Vulliamy