In the field of children’s literature there are plenty of simple picture books featuring families that have one or two siblings or one character, but not as many feature up to six siblings in one family as does Christopher’s Busy Day.
Christopher’s Busy Day is the story of the youngest boy in a family of six siblings. He goes about his day with one thing at the top of his list – the desire to play with his train set. However, his Mum repeatedly tells him: “Not now Christopher. Today we have a busy day!” Christopher has to wait through doctor’s appointments, sibling school drop-offs, soccer practice for his brother, and then finally he falls asleep, too tired to play. The story has a very family-oriented ending.
The positive of the message is that the children don’t wander around in the story bored, with little staying power, materialistically seeking out the next amusement as we so often see kids doing in life. Instead life is realistically portrayed as excitingly busy with bonding and togetherness. There is sharing and waiting turns – the reverse to what is the norm in society today.
Christopher gets to experience longing, he shares a bag of popcorn with his siblings rather than having it all on his own, he listens to big sister’s and brother’s stories after school, he cheers along his soccer playing brother with the others, and he enjoys being a helper to his Mum and guessing whether the next child will be a boy or girl. There is such abundance and plenty of fun to be had for all.
Pictures are fairly simplistic in style and each page matches exactly the story. There isn’t much room for mystery or for children seeing something a little humorous or ironic in the pictures. This could have improved the story considerably. There is little interaction between the characters in Christopher’s Busy Day except for well-intentioned prescription-like comments such as: “Some day you’ll eat your lunches here too, Christopher, just like the big kids!”
I commend author Tammy Waech for her initiative of getting this topic into children’s books, but wish the story had of been more ‘show’ rather than ‘tell.’ Christopher seems to do everything right down to the littlest detail of putting his dish in the dishwasher. All of which is good, but not quite the formula for a “Peter Rabbit” classic.
A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.