Childhood is full of transitions, and change is often difficult for small children. Pets die, friends depart, we leave the security of home to enter school, or we have to say goodbye to a beloved teacher at the end of a school year. This book by Cori Doerrfeld will encourage children to recognise that, very often, an ending, however sad it may seem, presages the start of something else. Starting school means that soon we will be saying hello to new friends.
The front cover is rendered in beautiful muted blues and greens as two small children gaze at the night sky. They are accompanied by a dog, who features on the front endpapers. On the title page, we see the same little girl (whom we later learn is called Stella) feeding her goldfish as her mum holds up the dog’s lead. Stella has her schoolbag on her back. The next spread shows Stella tearfully hugging her Mum as the yellow school bus awaits.
Arriving in school Stella meets bespectacled, and androgynous, Charlie who becomes her best friend. Charlie and Stella have fun together throughout the changing seasons, and when Gilly the goldfish dies, Charlie helps Stella to cope by drawing pictures of Gilly and recycling her bowl as a vase.
And then, Charlie’s house has a For Sale / Sold sign outside.
Doerrfeld understands children very well. The illustrations are beautifully rendered in thick lines and pastels and show childlike depictions of Stella’s world. There is wonderful use of white space throughout which is calming, and which allows a child time to examine an image closely. The full-colour spreads are attractive and gentle. Overall, the illustration is emotionally sensitive. Teachers and parents will be delighted with this book. It will be a reassuring addition to any child’s bookshelf.
Oh, and observant small children will note that a hamster now features on the side table where Gilly used to be.
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These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.