I'm Number One by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham
|I'm Number One by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham|
|Genre: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
|Summary: A sweet tale of a slightly mean toy who eventually realises that the other toys have feelings too. Young children who are having trouble playing with others (from either side of the coin) will find it helps them explore their real-life issues.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: August 2009|
|External links: Author's website|
When the girl leaves for school in the morning, her toys do what all toys do during the day: they hang out with each other as friends do. A-One, the drummer boy, is at pains to point out to the other toys that he rules, that he's number one, and that the others are no good, hopeless and useless. He tricks Maddy into giving him her hat, Sally into giving up her rucksack and Sid into giving up his scarf. He's a bit of a meanie is A-One.
As young children's horizons expand and they come into contact with more children, they can have a hard time playing with others. They're likely to come across children who snatch, are a bit selfish, or are just a bit big and unexpected. Your darling child might even be that child themselves. I'm Number One is a perfect way to explore, discuss and digest these issues, without ever hammering home any sort of message in a clunky and obvious way.
Although A-One does get his comeuppance, I particularly liked that it was very mild, being more of a spark to self-realisation rather than a big dramatic event. Despite the subject matter, this is a very peaceful and sensitive book. It's soothing and just plain lovely. Bob Graham's illustrations contribute heavily to this tone, with the charming toys and the house in its delicate pastel shades.
One small touch in I'm Number One reminded me just how much I love Michael Rosen: in a number of scenes, there's a letter in the background addressed and ready to be posted to Rosen c/o his publisher. I love that he's quietly encouraging children to contact him, and any time I've ever seen him interviewed or discussing his work, I've always been heartened to see that being an author doesn't end when the book is finished - it's also about going into schools, talking with children, telling them stories, hearing stories and engaging with people. Many other authors do that too, of course, but I've particularly noticed it with Michael Rosen. It's not entirely relevant to this review, but Michael Rosen is fantastic and there should always be a place to say that.
Back to the book itself, children who aren't going through similar issues to A-One and his acquaintainces won't get quite as much out of it as others. It does work as a story in its own right, but the necessary and appropriate gentle line means it's best-suited to the younger and more sensitive children. It's still warmly recommended.
My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.
Every Second Friday by Kiri Lightfoot and Ben Galbraith is another recommended picture book for children dealing with issues in their life (in this case, the aftermath of divorce). Duck by Janet A Holmes and Jonathan Bentley also mixes boastfulness, sensitivity and self-awareness to create a glorious whole.
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