I Have to Start at School Today

I Have to Start at School Today

By Author / Illustrator

Simon Philip, Ged Adamson


School Stories

Age range(s)



Simon & Schuster Ltd








A riotously funny, but ultimately reassuring look at one child's far-fetched imaginings about starting school, from the writer of award-winning You Must Bring a Hat and Be More Bernard.

I have to start at school today.
"You'll have such fun!" my parents say.
I know they think I'll be okay,
But what if things don't go my way?

Starting at a new school is BIG deal at the best of times, so what if you also had to deal with a cross rhinoceros, a selfish bear taking up your chair and a weird baboon with a loud bassoon? Luckily, Grandma is on hand to reassure that there's no need for fright because what if it just all goes...right?  



The fear of starting school is a common anxiety for both children and parents. This book perfectly encapsulates the imagination a four-year-old has of what frightening things they might encounter on their first day at school. And whilst it might not be a selfish bear or a scary rhino, this book captures the fear of everything being over large, overpowering and controlling. Every small child will be able to connect with the little girl and find their own journey of reassurance as the clear message of this picture book shines through - instead of all the things that could go wrong, what if it all goes right?

I Have to Start at School Today tells the story of a little girl who is preparing for her first day at school. The little girl is clearly anxious, the older brother is winding her up, and her mother is happily getting her ready. But the little girl starts to imagine all the things that could go wrong on her first day such as; a massive rhino who won't let her through the gate, a huge selfish bear who won't share and a 'weird bassoon' who is too noisy.

But as the narrative continues, Grandma comes to save the day by gently explaining that it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, but try to look at it from another perspective. Grandma reassures the little girl and helps her feel excited for her first day, reassuring the reader that actually school 'could be a nice surprise'.

The illustrations are bright and colourful with clear facial expressions to portray the emotions of all the characters. Something I loved about the illustrations of this book are the small details. The mother is happy and lovingly preparing her daughter, but as she takes the 'first day' photograph, tears are silently streaming down her face as she smiles; a nice touch for the parents. Also, the brother is in the background of many pictures, taking pleasure in winding up his little sister, until Grandma explains he is telling lies and the brother's facial expressions show his remorse for how he has made his sister feel.

A lovely story to read to your four-year-old as they prepare for their own big day. This book has the right amount of humour to take away the fear of school, whilst also imparting a reassuring message that is it OK to feel nervous, but school will be fun.

Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 3+


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