With an enthusiasm that virtually oozes off the pages and infects readers, Martha tells readers all about herself and her preparations for her first day of school.
While many going-to-school books are about jitters or routines or school supplies, this one is in a class by itself, focusing on Martha’s close relationship with the younger brothers she’ll be leaving at home and on all her favorite things. Martha’s exuberance for her possessions can be likened to Lilly with her purple plastic purse or Olivia and all her outfits. The morning of Martha’s first day of school is a busy one as she tries to balance her brothers’ need for guidance (and reassurance) with packing her backpack, a hysterical pursuit that has Martha stuffing in everything but the kitchen sink before her mother helps her pare it down. The book ends on just the right note: A school-loving Martha returns home to join her beloved brothers in their Happy Bunny Club, which she helped them set up that morning. Vulliamy keeps the energy high in her cartoon illustrations, which brim with color and combine labeled vignettes (almost like rebuses) with sometimes-overbusy spot illustrations. The artwork is nicely accented with collaged items, one slight misstep being the sign that Martha pens, with too-perfect spelling and penmanship, for the new club.
Still, Martha’s excitement is infectious, and younger siblings should feel it as well as newly minted students. (Picture book. 4-7)