In My Busy Being Bella Day by Rebecca Patterson, being packed off to nursery seems like the short straw to Bella.
Whilst she has to work hard, she can’t help imagining all the fun her younger brother is probably having with Mum. Treats at the café? Or a trip to the soft play centre? Not only that, for snack time Mum has packed Bella a banana with brown spots on it. Ugh. Life just doesn’t seem fair.
But is Bob really having so much fun at home? Does Bella really end up having such a bad day at nursery?
With My Busy Being Bella Day Patterson has written an acutely observant, extremely funny book about sibling jealousy and love, which also explores the anxieties kids can face when starting school/nursery. As a parent I found her choice of “moments” almost unbearable, they were so accurate; from the rather empty activity of colouring in a number in the name of “education, education, education” whilst mum and younger sibling are indeed sharing coffee foam in a café, via the horror of a slightly squashed banana especially when everyone else in the class seems to have much more appealing snacks, to the genuine delight children have in being selected as the “Special Person” of the day, Patterson has chosen reassuringly familiar moments for many families.
This recognition makes this picture book a thoroughly satisfying read, but it is also delightful because Bella is such a joyous character. She may only be three but she’s got bags of spunk and style (wait till you hear her singing or see her dressing up). She doesn’t set out to be deliberately funny, but her take on the world will make many a parent laugh, and many a child feel that Bella is really them.
The illustrations remind me a little of a childhood favourite of mine – Topsy and Tim – perhaps because of the use of flat colours, black line drawings and familiar domestic settings, but with rather a lot more spirit. Click here to see for yourself!
This is actually Bella’s second outing: she was also the star in My Big Shouting Day, a hilarious book which deservedly won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2012. I think Patterson deserves to make history and win the prize for a second successive year with My Busy Being Bella Day – Rebecca Patterson really has been busy being brilliant.
One of the many activities Bella gets up to at nursery is making a picture out of pasta. As she comments, pasta can be rather hard to glue onto paper so to get round this problem we combined two nursery staples: making pictures with pasta and salt dough.
To make the salt dough we mixed 1 mug of plain flour with half a mug of table salt and half a mug of water. Once combined we kneaded it for a little to make it nice and smooth and then we were ready to go.
We use the salt dough as our canvas and simply pushed the pasta shapes into the dough.
We rolled our salt dough out so it was about 1 cm thick and then simply pushed the pasta in hard to make sure it was secured.
Baking the dough took a long time – about 12 hours at 50C. Once it dried out we used lots of hot glue to stick our dough-pasta-art into frames; I sourced a couple of cheap frames from charity shops and simply took out the glass.
Now they’re a proud part of our gallery!
Whilst making our pasta pictures we listened to:
Other activities which would be fun to get up to alongside reading My Busy Being Bella Day include:
If you’re looking for more great books about starting school check out this round-up.
What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book. I was not required to write a review and I received no payment for this post.