Age Range: 3 to 6
We’ve been reading another great picture book to prepare a child for starting school – Whiffy Wilson, The Wolf who wouldn’t go to School. I love the humorous approach that Caryl Hart has added to a familiar situation and she has created a wonderfully supportive friend, Dotty, who helps to ensure that Wilson has lots of fun on his first day at school.
The Story: Wilson wouldn’t learn his numbers or how to write his name, he’s never used a pen or read a book. His father says that he must go to school but Wilson thinks that school is boring. Wilson’s friend, Dotty, takes him to school with her and they have a busy day. Wilson has a great time and the teacher gives him a gold star. Next morning when Wilson gets up early and calls for Dotty he is very disappointed when she tells him that it is Saturday and there is no school!
Wilson is a very loveable character who, like many young children, is unsure about starting school. He feels that he must live up to expectations that as a wolf he must be big and strong and as the story develops we learn that he is worried that the teacher will shout at him when he gets answers wrong and that nobody will like him. He doesn’t have to worry, his teacher gives him a gold star for working hard and he makes lots of new friends while he is playing football. He has so much fun painting, making things and practising numbers that he doesn’t realise that he is working!
Wilson’s friend Dotty is a strong female character who gently takes charge and shows Wilson what to do when they get to school. One of our favourite pictures shows Wilson with his arm around her at story time, it beautifully evokes the strength of their friendship and his appreciation of her support. Although Wilson’s father and teacher are mentioned in the text no adults are shown in the illustrations, the story is about Wilson, Dotty and their classmates.
The rhyming text is easy to read and has a bouncy rhythm. The illustrations are bold and full of humour, my daughter thinks it’s funny when Wilson goes into the girls’ toilet and we love his flowery underwear! Leonie Lord has captured some wonderful expressions on Wilson’s face, especially his expression of disbelief when Dotty tells him that she can’t play as she is going to school. We also like the way that Dotty puts her tongue out in concentration during Messy Time and the huge dot to dot dinosaur.
This fun rhyming story with its loveable characters is a great book to read to children who are starting school. Caryl Hart has succeeded in acknowledging initial insecurities and dealing with them in a humorous way, by the end of the story Wilson’s enthusiasm for school is infectious!
Author: Caryl Hart / Illustrator: Leonie Lord
We also like Whiffy Wilson, The Wolf who wouldn’t Wash which tells the amusing story of Dotty’s attempt to get a very smelly, flea infested Wilson clean!