Learning about school from the teacher’s perspective, especially if that teacher wears a gingham bow, polka-dotted bandana, has a pink triangle for a nose and a tail peeping out of her skirt, can be very reassuring for first-time students. Tallulah the cat, the star of It’s Time for School with Tallulah, nurtures the minds of Roxy the pig, Freddie the alligator, Flapjack the dog and takes special care of Nigel the penguin, who’s new and feeling shy, even with his special purple scarf on.
Author and illustrator Nancy Wolff creates an easy and playful environment, depicting the animals with swaths of newsprint and bright, bold textiles; each page engulfs us in a different busy, active scene. The classmates and their teacher have plastered announcements, petitions and drawings throughout, and this handwritten text adds texture to the official storyline.
It’s Time for School with Tallulah may remind readers of Richard Scary’s Busy, Busy Town or any of his brilliant animal-filled picture books, so chock-full of details and visual jokes that every re-reading prompts a new line of inquiry. Wolff’s story is peppered with asides in little word bubbles and clever inside jokes that can be read aloud or passed over. My pick: Tallulah’s favorite book—101 Cat Tales by Feline A. Bitfrisky’.
Borrow liberally from this school days’ roster of fun and practical activities, from following “Tallulah’s Snakitty Crackers Recipe” for crackers that look like kitties, to a make-your-own placemat craft, to a new version of tag, called cat and mouse. If they’re still not revved for the big day, sing Tallulah’s Welcome to Class’ song as you lay out their first day of school clothes together:
(To the tune of “Happy Birthday!”)
“Good morning to you,
Bonjour and hola, too.
And how do you do?”
It’s Time for School with Tallulah, $16.95.