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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2004
Few of the books I give to children at the primary school where I work to have a look at have proved as popular as Lauren Child's, which stand out because of the wonderfully creative illustrations and the wit of the dialogue.
A return of Charlie and Lola from 'I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato' (still the best in the series) is welcome with Charlie trying to persuade Lola of the worthwhile-ness of going to school and conquering all-too-common fears, with varying degrees of success. A good one for a parent or teacher faced with that situation, though perhaps not all Charlie's answers are so convincing...
Usually popular with children from Reception to Year 4 (5-8 years old) or perhaps older children still wary about longer books. Most grown-ups will enjoy reading it.
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Generally just on the right side of twee, the tremendously fashionable Lauren Child follows up picky eating and bedtime routines with the popular theme of starting school. This was back in the old days, before the TV show, when Child was still writing the stories herself. Now she just 'originates' them (and, for this parent at least, the idiosyncracies of language are starting to wear dangerously thin...)

Too Small for School is a lovely book, though. Once you get past that obligatory opening paragraph ('I have this little sister Lola...) which always makes my daughter roll her eyes in annoyance, it's a non-stop collage-fest with the usual wacky features. The Charlie and Lola books always encourage interaction - here there are photos of biscuits (for your child to choose their favourite), and numbered fingers and toes (bound to get most children counting their own)... even Japanese fridge magnets (that my daughter is thrilled to recognise from Mummy's half-baked attempts at learning the language). This book is cooler than cool.

It's frightfully middle class, of course, with Charlie and Lola attending a hip and happening school where there's no such thing as a 'schooliform' (not much help for all those children forced to wear regulation grey, of course). Lola's invisible friend Soren Lorenson makes an 'appearance' though (well, sort of) to great effect (with even a shadowy lunch box on his side of the table). It's this kind of cutesy touch that makes Lauren Child the star she is. On the downside, though, I was at a restaurant the other day, and they'd inserted a completely gratuitous 'absolutely' into the kids' menu (well, it was 'absolutley', actually, which is even worse). Lauren Child might just have a lot to answer for!
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on 2 May 2005
I love this book, never mind my children! This book is great, whether your child is just about to start school or whether they are reflecting in their school experiences to date. Lola, the new starter does not want to go to school and her ever so supportive brother seems to have an answer for everything to combat her fears! The book is so multi-faceted, as it lends itself to all manners of the curriculum, whether, literacy;numeracy;art or PSHE. We just love the look of the book and how every time we read it we are greeted with something new!
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on 13 September 2015
My little boy loved this story and it helped him get ready for reception class and get over his nerves. We read it many times during the week before his first day. He decided to take his "invisible friend" with him to school too (even though he doesn't have one usually). I was a bit worried that we were going to have difficulties convincing my son to wear a uniform and eat school dinners after reading this though because Lola's school doesn't have a uniform (!) and she is a fussy eater and so has a packed lunch. My son is also a fussy eater - but there's no option for packed lunches at his school. Luckily he wasn't dissuaded from wearing his uniform or school dinners. I recommend this book for school starters and also to do other activities around starting school. One thing that helped us with putting uniform on was to have a competition with Daddy to see who could put their PE kit on and then after a short PE lesson (we played catch with a ball) change into school uniform (I had to match my husband's clothes as closely as possible to my son's uniform).
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This is a charming and entertaining entry in the 'Charlie and Lola' series, and one which has particular significance for preschool-age children in the run-up to starting at 'big school'. I first bought a copy of this title in 2005, when one of the preschoolers I work with was showing significant signs of distress about starting school. She really related to the story - which helped her to deal with her anxiety about the transition.

The story has been a big hit with subsequent 'generations' of nursery children, as Lola's doubts and fears reflect those of many school starters.

So why not a full 5 stars for a story that is well written and entertaining?

Unfortunately, unlike ALL of the primary schools in the rural area where I work (and many elsewhere), there is no school uniform at the school Lola will be joining, and her fears regarding same dress are totally unfounded because she will not have to wear a uniform ("schooliform").

Although Charlie points out that for schoolwear stripes are preferable to her crocodile costume, Lola's distaste for likeness of dress ultimately prevails and the story includes an image of children in uniform (Lola-clones) all dressed alike which is very negative.

If you're i) in an area, or ii) sending your child to a school where uniform is mandatory for primary schoolers, then it's up to the teacher/ reader to explain the positive (e.g. group identity) aspects of uniform.
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on 16 July 2012
Having managed to convince his little sister Lola to eat up her dinner and go to bed, Charlie is now facing the thorny issue of going to school. As usual, Lola can come up with endless reasons why she should not do this particular thing and Charlie has to use all his powers of persuasion to convince her otherwise.

Young fans of Charlie and Lola are sure to love this next instalment, with its quirky illustrations and childish logic. Lola's imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson, also makes an appearance, so you can have fun searching for him in some of the pictures.

Even though school is still a little way off for my daughter, we have had great fun reading this book together.

This review refers to the paperback edition of 'I am TOO absolutely small for school' published by Orchard Books in 2007.
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on 15 June 2011
We've just bought this book for my 4 year old, who is due to start school in September. He is not used to the school system as he has been at a day nursery since being a baby, which is very different to a school routine.

Lauren Child's books are lovely, generally, not just her Charlie and Lola series but other ones too.

This book on the surface is lovely, but there are a few faults within the story. Lola says she doesn't want to wear a school uniform and look like the other children - Charlie points out that it's okay because their school doesn't have a uniform. I imagine most if not all schools have a uniform, and so the book does not have an accurate reflection of school clothing. Also, Lola says that she doesn't like school dinners - well that's okay because she can take a packed lunch. My son will be staying school dinners, and it would have nice for Childs to have put something positive in about school dinners.

Wish I'd read this book before reading it to my son, he's now saying he doesn't want to stay school dinners. I shall just have to tell him that Brenda, the cook from nursery, helps do the school dinners, as he tells me her food is better than mine!

Starting school by the Ahlbergs is the best book by far for preparing little one's for school.
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on 8 November 2012
My granddaughter is a Charlie and Lola fan and I gave this to her just before she started at primary school. The school she attends is non-uniform, otherwise she might have been put off even before she started. Why did the author make such a point that Lola's school is likewise? Unusual these days. I see that this has been noted here already, and I was annoyed by it on behalf of others: my grandsons all wear uniform at their school. Spoils the book really.
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This is a charming and entertaining entry in the 'Charlie and Lola' series, and one which has particular significance for preschool-age children in the run-up to starting at 'big school'. I first bought a copy of this title in 2005, when one of the preschoolers I work with was showing significant signs of distress about starting school. She really related to the story - which helped her to deal with her anxiety about the transition.

The story has been a big hit with subsequent 'generations' of nursery children, as Lola's doubts and fears reflect those of many school starters.

So why not a full 5 stars for a story that is well written and entertaining?

Unfortunately, unlike ALL of the primary schools in the rural area where I work (and many elsewhere), there is no school uniform at the school Lola will be joining, and her fears regarding same dress are totally unfounded because she will not have to wear a uniform ("schooliform").

Although Charlie points out that for schoolwear stripes are preferable to her crocodile costume, Lola's distaste for likeness of dress ultimately prevails and the story includes an image of children in uniform (Lola-clones) all dressed alike which is very negative.

If you're i) in an area, or ii) sending your child to a school where uniform is mandatory for primary schoolers, then it's up to the teacher/ reader to explain the positive (e.g. group identity) aspects of uniform.
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on 12 June 2013
are bedtime favourites. They are well illustrsated with just the right amount of text.
I'm enjoying them as much as the three year old. With this title you do need to have a listener who loves going to school and so finds the reluctance of Lollo to join in very amusing.
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