Monday, 13 May 2013

I'm Number One by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham (Walker Books)

I'll be the first to admit that we really didn't like "I'm Number One" at first, and truly believed we were stricken with some sort of virus that made us miss the point of ever single Michael Rosen book except "We're going on a Bear Hunt".

But on re-reading, and discussing, "I'm Number One" wraps its lesson so tightly up with its little set of toy characters that it's quite hard to see past the thoroughly unlikeable clockwork soldier and his behaviour, through to the message the book is conveying.

The Toy Soldier loudly proclaims that he is Number One, and once his friends wind up his clockwork mechanism, the soldier proceeds to criticise, bully and berate them.

Why? Because as number one, the top of the tree, he believes he's better than anyone else. But of course there's one thing he just can't quite do on his own so when he starts to run down, the soldier realises that being Number One is all well and good, but being part of the gang is better!

It's a neat and subtly delivered message and I tried to draw out of Charlotte how she would deal with someone who behaves like this. Interesting discussions about rude and overbearing behaviour from a five year old are wholly enlightening and from an adult perspective, it's quite interesting to hear how children deal with the delicate balance of power in the classroom or at play and how different they handle things compared to us 'grown ups'.

Rosen's poetry is super, his storytelling is sometimes a little bit too self-assuredly 'clever' for its own good (yes I know, that's tantamount to children's-book-treason but I still don't rate Happy Harry's Cafe, nyaaah!), but stick with this book and you'll appreciate its theme and subtle delivery of said theme too.

Charlotte's best bit: When the soldier realises that the gang should really have all their lovely things back.

Daddy's favourite bit: The amusing parallels between the interactions of this tiny gang of toys and the social and political machinations at the workplace!