One of my reading goals, or rather goals for the blog this year (I will be writing a separate post on this soon) is to read and write on at least one children’s book each month, as this is a genre I really enjoy and read very often. I will try and pick one (as far as possible) connected to the theme I select for the month (again something I’ll write about in my reading goals post). This time around though, the one I picked is related to a challenge with a goodreads group.

I read or rather reread Mary Kate and the School Bus and Other Stories for the ???th time yesterday as one of the challenges I’m taking this year with the group A Book for All Seasons on goodreads involved reading a chapter book I enjoyed as a child. Actually it was more about reading the first one, one remembered reading as a child but as I didn’t really remember the very first, I picked one which I enjoyed reading very much and read countless times. This is also one of very few non-Enid Blyton books I read as a child (I think probably 90 per cent of my reading as a child, if not more, was Enid Blyton).

Mary Kate and the School Bus and Other Stories by Helen Morgan, illustrated by Shirley Hughes is a little collection of 7 chapters/stories about a little girl Mary Kate who is has just turned five and is about to start school. The stories aren’t of adventure or fantasy but of simple everyday happenings that can be as exciting as an adventure. The stories in this collection include Mary Kate getting her first ride in the school bus before she formally starts school (which turns out to be an interesting little adventure on a very snowy day), Mary Kate starting school which sees her getting so many new things (from her uniform to school supplies) that she thinks it’s as good as a birthday, her first day at school, shopping with her uncle Jack, losing her first tooth, a day of things going wrong (including her dog Jacky following her to school― one could almost sing “Mary (Kate) had a little dog”), an early morning walk and picnic with her aunt Mary, and finally her first sports day at school. While I like all the stories in this collection, a few of my favourites are the one where Mary Kate ends up going on an early morning walk (at half-past three) with her aunt to watch the sun rise, and enjoy the peace and beauty of the woods, and also ends up having a picnic breakfast (buttery rolls, sausages, tomatoes, and chocolate―”the nicest breakfast she’d ever had”, all on a fallen tree trunk). The day begins “pink and gold and glowing”, and the wood is full of rhododendrons, lines of pine trees, the ground “mauve with bluebells”, and plenty of daffodils in bloom as well. The others are two connected stories of Mary Kate preparing for her first day at school, her new things all laid out (her uniform, various pairs of shoes, and socks), receiving the various things she’d need as presents from her relatives (het satchel, colouring pencils, and pencil case with pencils and erasers, a painting pinny, etc.). Then is the tale of the day she finally goes to school, eating her breakfast, and setting off, then setting down in school with her own name tag (a red elephant) and making a friend. What I love about all the stories, are that they are such simple, gentle stories which give you a sense of calm and contentment, and which show you how much joy and indeed excitement of a kind there can be in the routine happenings in life, if one is open to enjoying them rather than waiting for “special” things or “big” happenings. While these are essentially children’s stories, there are things once can enjoy about them as an adult as well. I also love the illustrations by Shirley Hughes. A lovely revisit.

This review also appears on goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1511871297?book_show_action=false

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