My Busy Being Bella Day by Rebecca Patterson published by Random House Childrens
As our daughter approaches her third birthday, she has a growing interest in 'big children' and the exciting world they inhabit - their taller slides, faster bikes, louder voices, longer hair. Perhaps most intriguing of all is that big children go to school, a seemingly mysterious and wondrous place.
Since the arrival of her baby sister six weeks ago, she has adapted remarkably well to her new role as 'big sister', with a new air of maturity, greater confidence in her abilities, and a desire to show her new sibling (and us) how much she can say, do and help. Incrementally, before our eyes, she is becoming one of the big children.
It's perhaps no wonder, with the recent addition to our family, that she and we are finding more and more to love about Bella, Rebecca Patterson's wonderfully wilful 'threenager'. In this book, we join Bella as she narrates a tale of a typical day at nursery - beginning with a reluctant farewell to her mummy and her baby brother, Bob. She tells us it will be a busy day, and speculates about all the fun mummy and Bob will probably be having without her.
The day doesn't start well for Bella. Finding a banana with spots in her lunch box at snack time is bad enough, but when Sasha produces kiwi slices in a special pot, her inner turmoil is almost too much to bear. Then later, the tasks of colouring in a 2 and sticking pasta shapes onto card just seem unreasonably difficult (Sasha and the others make it look so easy!) and she's sure Bob is at "that place with the curly slide" or in a cafe with mummy "licking foam".
Yet Bella's day takes a turn for the better when she is "praised" by her teacher for "singing" I'm a little teapot: "Margaret is right - I AM THE LOUDEST TEAPOT HERE!" Then, after literally riding above Sasha on the horse see saw, she asserts with pride that Bob wouldn't be allowed on it at all as "he might wobble off". During dressing up, Bella puts on all the clothes in the box and remarks that "Bob can't even put on a sock".
We enjoy a touch of schadenfreude when Sasha's lentil shaker spills all over the floor and later, after Bella is the "special person who chooses the weather", it's time for mummy and Bob to collect her. Bella's mum looks weary and Bob is elated to see his big sister, almost leaping from his pushchair into a big hug. What have you been doing all day? Bella asks. "Nothing much", says mummy, as we see a flashback of mummy and Bob sitting by the washing machine trying to get through the never ending laundry. "Most of the time", says mummy, "Bob was busy...missing you".
This is a charming book with characters to whom we can all relate, both ourselves and our children. It's lively, busy and fun - just like Bella's day. The illustrations are full of colour, energy and detail. Most enjoyable is the humour and sweet pathos in the depiction of the push and pull of sibling rivalry, underscored by love. A highly recommended triumph.