Dani Wagner, head of nursery at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett, steps outside the door and shakes a tambourine.
Immediately, the children who have enjoying the spring sun in the playground, come flocking towards her, assembling in orderly rows. “Hands by your side,” she says as she ushers them inside.
When they are settled, sitting on a mat, she continues, “Remember I told you, we are going to have a special visitor. What is his name?”
A little boy’s hand rises. “Gavin Rhodes,” he replies.
The special visitor, an IT manager in the City by profession, is the author of Superstar Kids, a collection of stories in rhyme with a moral message.
“They are about being kind and considerate, or sharing and helpful or the importance of tidying up, all things we are teaching our children,” Ms Wagner explains. “I thought it would be lovely for him to come and read. They were very excited when I told them they were going to meet a real-life author.”
Reading from a large screen on which the words of his book are projected, Mr Rhodes relates the tales of Bella who couldn’t find her bunny because her room was so messy or naughty Roco, whose mischief includes “burping loudly without saying pardon”.
The class of mostly four-year-olds sit attentively, answering questions after each story. Some of them have the book at home.
“Who keeps their room tidy,” Ms Wagner asks. Up goes a forest of hands.
Introducing another story, Mr Rhodes says it is “about belief and confidence. They are quite big words — but you’ll understand.”
The father of two young children himself— Isabella, 5, and Brody, 3, who attend Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Jewish Primary in Mill Hill — felt there was a gap on the shelves for stories with a moral.
Three years ago he began composing his own on an iPhone while commuting to work. Rhyme “came naturally,” he says. “It’s more fun for the reader and also I am a big fan of music.”
He found his illustrator, Aliyah Coreana, by advertising at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design and published the book himself. Encouraged by its reception, he is in the process of producing a follow-up.