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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Ready, Steady, School!
by Marianne Dubuc
Age Range: 6-8
Here is another sumptuous lively search and find large-format book by award-winning Canadian author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc. Like her previous Mr Postmouse books, Ready, Steady, School! is packed with intricate detail with plenty to look at and absorb.
Pom, a small gnome whose gender isn’t specified, is not due to start school until next year but wants to spend a day at school and sets out on a fascinating adventure visiting an array of animal schools which all turn out to have so much to offer.
Pom encounters rabbits learning to count with a distinctive carrot theme at the Nibbles & Scribbles school, frogs creating beautiful artwork at Bulrushes school, foxes keeping fit by playing different sports at F is for Foxtrot school, squirrels learning about nature at Tree Tops school and wolves reading and enjoying books in the library at Once Upon a Time school. The schools are all so different so where will Pom decide to go to school next year?
Dubuc has provided yet another visual treat packing every double-page spread with meticulous and appealing detail from the little mouse having one last hug before setting off for school to the enterprising rabbits growing vegetables on the roof and the tortoises tidying up the classroom at the end of the school day. In addition, there are some characters from well-known fairy tales mingling with the animals at their schools amidst the pages.
The text, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, is conversational and as with all Dubuc’s books, there is plenty of humour and hidden visual jokes in the artwork. There is always so much to look at and each time you revisit a page you discover more.
The illustrations have a vibrant colour palette which Dubuc originally created with coloured pencils and watercolour washes, but they had to be created on the computer due to the pandemic, although this doesn’t detract at all from the visual feast contained in the pages.
Ready, Steady, School is a real treat of a book to be dipped into again and again and ideal for preparing young children for school.
There are some excellent Teaching Notes created by Martin Galway of Hertfordshire Learning available to download from the Book Island website https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0093/4992/2876/files/Ready_Steady_School__teacher_notes.pdf?v=1620735833 Together with a video with Marianne Dubuc giving more background on how she created the book. https://vimeo.com/534034931
Other titles reviewed on the website are: The Lion and the Bird (2015), Here Comes Mr Postmouse (2016), Mr Postmouse Goes on Holiday (2017) and Up the Mountain (2018)