Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes

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Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: Positive story about not judging on first impressions and everybody having something to offer, this is a heart-warming if bit mawkish tale for older pre-schoolers, but will probably work best borrowed.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0192763372

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Oh, Boris! is another of the "new child at school" books that attempt to ease the transition for children who are just starting school or arriving in a new class. As often, it's done in an animal guise (I am yet to find out why this particular theme attracts the animal fable raiment so much). At least, the teacher is not an owl, it's Miss Cluck the hen and when she announces a new child - a bear! - everybody gets excited. But when the new child turns up, it's not a cuddly teddy, but a proper bear - a hairy, grizzly, scary, toothsome bear and a huge and clumsy one at that! Everybody is terrified, and Boris is ostracised - and as he's quite hopelessly socially unaware and doesn't realise how scary his teeth-filled grin is, and how intimidating his bulk and booming voice are, he doesn't know what to do! It all turns round when Boris manages to scare off a gang of rat bullies (even though his intention was just to be friendly with them) and he gets accepted and appreciated for the gentle giant he is, his size and furriness turned to his advantage.

As you can see, it's a nice story, heart-warming, positive but just about this side of sloppy, and it reiterates the ever-important morals of not judging by first impressions and appearance, and of everybody having something to offer. I also thought that the figure of a "lumbering bear" was used to great advantage. A child entering new social environment may feel small, invisible and lost, but may also feel exposed, huge and very much noticeable.

The artwork, although nothing very special, is competent enough, with quite a bit of realistic classroom detail and well-rendered expressions and gestures.

I am not terribly fond of woodland schools populated by animals, but I think Oh, Boris! works well, making a good use of the animal fable model. I was also rather gratified, considering the current climate of anti-fat paranoia, to see the Rotten Rats depicted and explicitly described as skinny-legged - yay for big bears!

I don't think this book would be re-read a lot, so it's probably better borrowed , but it is well worth borrowing for all preschoolers, and especially ones that might either have to face a new group, or have a new and awkward child arriving in their midst.

Thanks to the publishers for sending this to the Bookbag.

A Pocketful of Kisses has a similar theme but is bit even more sacharine. Some Dogs Do is a great feel-good picture book with a school dressed up in animal fable clothes.

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Buy Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oh, Boris! by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes at Amazon.com.


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