During his first weeks at school the little boy narrator has members of his extended family who are willing and able to walk with him through the bustling town, right to the school gate. There’s speedy walking Mama making sure that there’s plenty of time for a kiss before the bell rings; wise Gogo who likes to leave early so they can take the quiet route and look at things of interest without needing to hurry. She gives her grandson some words of wisdom as they walk, “We must hold our friends gently in both hands,” she says after Gogo tells her about his best pals. Tata chooses the rainy days to accompany the narrator to school; they take the shortcuts and have lots of fun splish-splashing in puddles, though Tata’s legs aren’t what they were so he needs to rest and have a bit if a whistle before completing the walk, which he always concludes with a special great big hug.
The very best days of all though says the little boy ‘are when Papa takes me to school.’ This he announces from high up on his father’s shoulders, a place where he’d like to stay for ever; but all too soon they reach the school door, exchange a parting “I love you,” and then off goes Papa to his job on the building site while his son goes into the classroom where they too set to work constructing something special that we see on the final page.
Told from a young child’s viewpoint, this presentation of an everyday routine is a lovely warm, joyful, sometimes poignant celebration of family love, especially the bond between father and son. It’s just right for sharing with anyone of starting school age wherever they live.