Written by a Korean author and translated from Chinese, this book tells the amusing story of one little girl who turns up for school, only to find that there are no other pupils. She becomes the focus of unwelcome attention as all the teachers want to teach her. In turn, they present their case for why ‘all good pupils’ should excel in their subject. Eventually, frightened and anxious, she creeps out of the school unnoticed whilst the teachers are busy arguing with each other and posturing for position.
As the colours of the illustrations become increasingly vibrant, the girl spends her time in imaginative play and exploration. She goes on a mini-beast hunt, plays in the park, learns to make soup, finds a hidden city and finally falls fast asleep on a library floor after making a book about her day.
When her worried teachers find her, they read her book and discover for the first time that learning can be fun. All’s well that ends well, as the teachers throw a party and school becomes so enjoyable that it is soon full of happy pupils.
The subtext of this story is a pertinent one – that learning should be fun, that curiosity should be nurtured and that imagination is a powerful motivator of learning. It goes to the heart of the definition of education. Colour is used very effectively in the images, which tell the story without the need for text.
The intended audience for the book is not clear. The central character is obviously a young child, and although a young reader could read the story from images alone, the text is too challenging to be read independently by many five-year-olds. That said, it would be an interesting story to prompt discussion with children about their views of school and what they think makes for effective learning.