School for Dads, by Adam and Charlotte Guillain (words) and Ada Grey (illustrations), published by Egmont
This week we are visiting prospective primary schools for our older daughter, who turns four next year. It seems inconceivable that this could be happening so soon, but she is excited by the idea of "big school", to where many of her nursery friends departed over the summer.
"School lessons" is one of her favourite games to enact at home - with her as the teacher and her mummy and daddy as "girl" and "boy". "Come on girl, it's time for your painting lesson"; "now, does anybody need the toilet?"; "don't fill up on snacks".
Certainly one of the inspirations for this is the terrific 'School for Dads', a tale of role reversal where children are teachers for a day and their dads are the pupils. The dads have a lot to learn, starting with their behaviour: "Don't ignore us when we want to play, and stop looking at your phone. Don't tell us it's time to go and never answer "no"".
A full programme follows, including scenes of the dad's trying their best at art and P.E., as well as a "loud and rowdy" lunchtime. Soon, the children realise that it's pretty hard work being a grown up, and decide to end the day with a celebration of what they appreciate about their dads, from cuddles to playing football to making hot chocolate. The dads all get a "well done" sticker and they all go home happy.
A fun and pacey rhyme is accompanied by illustrations that are engaging, full of bright colours and scattered with details. One of our favourite scenes is the dads travelling to school - on bikes, skateboards and even a pogo stick!
A diverse group of dads and children are depicted and the book helpfully challenges a common gender stereotype in picture books where it is almost always the mums who go on the school run. This is an ideal choice for children turning their minds to school or starting in the older class at nursery. It would make a perfect choice around Father's Day, too.