Go to the Head of the Class | Back-to-School Roundup

This season's crop of back-to-school picture books will encourage and hearten newbies as well as returning students to the hallowed halls of our institutions of learning.

1608-BacktoSchoolRoundupAshburn, Boni. The Class. illus. by Kimberly Gee. 40p. ebook available. S. & S./Beach Lane. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442422483.

PreS-K –Twenty children from 19 different homes are getting ready for the first day of school in this illustrated story in rhyme. Some of the students-to-be are eager, others are nervous, but there are plenty of antics all around. “Three have pancakes./Juice for eight./Two eat toast./One drops a plate. Some have butterflies;/they just nibble./One’s distracted–/dribble…dribble.” The children are from diverse backgrounds, and Gee skillfully infuses their faces with emotion in the digitally colored pencil drawings. With such a variety of experiences early in the morning, viewers will be able to identify with the characters depicted. It’s also fun to follow the individual kids as they get ready, meet up with friends, and make their way to class. VERDICT An appealing look at one group of students who come together to form a class. Suitable for small group sharing, but most first-time students will want to pore over the engaging artwork.–Jennifer Steib Simmons, Anderson County Library, SC

redstarBirdsall, Jeanne. My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s Class. illus. by Harry Bliss. 40p. Knopf. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385755702.

K-Gr 3 –Gus writes a report about his favorite pet(s): his family’s 17 sheep. He begins with some basic facts about sheep but quickly slips into relating amusing details about his mischievous antics with the animals. Gus writes about his efforts to trade his little brother for a lamb, the time he dressed up a sheep in his teacher’s borrowed scarf, and his attempts to teach the sheep to ride a skateboard and a bicycle. He includes brief references to his parents’ reactions (“What were you thinking, Gus?”). But the last straw comes when the boy leads the sheep into the house, where they create quite a mess. “But we were only upstairs for a minute!” Gus’s mother exclaims. Bliss’s delightful illustrations take Birdsall’s funny text to the next level by showing the extent of the trouble that Gus’s grand ideas cause as well as the innocent-looking sheep. As fitting with an elementary school report, the text appears to be handwritten on notebook paper; Ms. Smolinski gives Gus a B+ and comments on his improved penmanship. VERDICT A thoroughly engaging book that children are bound to giggle through. A first purchase.–Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT

Border, Terry. Milk Goes to School. photos by Terry Border. 32p. Philomel. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399176197.

PreS-Gr 2 –Following the success of Peanut Butter and Cupcake and Happy Birthday, Cupcake!, Border returns with the latest entry in his cuisine-inspired series. Milk tries to make friends on the first day of school by sharing her best crayons with Carrot, offering to get Celery a new raisin, and asking Cupcake to sit next to her. Despite her efforts to be friendly, Milk is prone to boasting and snobbery and is soon labeled as “spoiled” by her classmate, Waffle, for her haughty attitude. This eventually leads to her being ostracized by the rest of her class. But when she accidentally slips on Banana’s peel and temporarily becomes a puddle on the floor, her classmates recall the title character’s kindness and Milk finally admits that she has been acting a bit spoiled. By the end of the book, Milk finds her way back into her carton and has some new friends, including Waffle. As with his previous works, Border manipulates and photographs three-dimensional objects to create his strange assortment of food-related characters, resulting in uniquely stylized and creative illustrations. Several clever food-themed gags are sprinkled throughout, providing plenty of giggles. Though this is a seemingly silly story, its themes of friendship, bullying, and fitting in still ring true. VERDICT A quirky read-aloud with offbeat humor and fun images that young readers will appreciate. A good choice to address the challenges of making new friends at school.–Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

Czajak, Paul. Monster Needs To Go to School. illus. by Wendy Grieb. 32p. (Monster & Me). ebook available. Mighty Media Kids. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781938063749.

PreS-Gr 1–Czajak and Grieb’s newest installment in their series addresses the topic of first day of school jitters and playground bullying. After much convincing and reassurance from the school-age boy narrator, Monster agrees that he does have a lot to learn and gets on the bus to go to school with his human. In art, music, and French class, Monster proudly enjoys all that he is absorbing at school, even though he self-consciously stands out among classmates. Initially afraid of being teased by bullies himself, particularly because he’s “blue and very hairy,” Monster is able to stand up to his friends when they become the bullies. At recess Monster notices children teasing one another and he quickly speaks up: “I know we’re friends, but teasing’s wrong./It’s something I despise./No one should be ridiculed. There is no compromise.” Grieb’s fun, animated, and bold illustrations are vivid and packed with detail for lively visual impact. However, the rhyming text, while playful and feel-good, is somewhat forced and uninspired. Further, the message about how to deal with bullies is handled in a quick and facile manner. VERDICT Order where the earlier titles in the series are popular. An additional purchase for most libraries.–Brianne Colombo, Pequannock Township Public Library, NJ

Garton, Sam. Otter Goes to School. illus. by Sam Garton. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062352255.

PreS-Gr 1–Fans of Otter will be pleased to see the pint-size creature going on a new escapade. While her guardian, Otter Keeper, is at work, Otter dresses up as a teacher and decides to school her stuffed toys. Giraffe excels at math, and Pig shows off his talents during music class, but what about Teddy, Otter’s stalwart companion? When Otter realizes that Teddy feels like he isn’t good at anything, her spirits sag—until Otter Keeper encourages her to have more faith in herself as an educator. Garton employs mild pastel colors and plenty of white space, giving his digitally rendered illustrations a soft, gentle quality. Otter herself is utterly charming, and images of her sporting her teaching outfit, complete with glasses and a pearl necklace, will have kids and adults cooing with delight. However, the tone never veers toward the cloying, and there’s genuine wit that comes from the contrast between Otter’s self-assured narration and the reality of the situation. Adults will appreciate Garton’s wry sensibility as he spoofs well-known moments of the school routine (taking on the role of the weepy parent before class begins, Otter muses, “I made sure everyone was settled in, and then I said good-bye. This part was a bit sad.”). Beneath the humor, though, there’s a true understanding of children’s fears, and Garton offers simple but sincere reassurance. VERDICT A wonderful storytime offering to soothe back-to-school blues; Otter devotees and newcomers will savor this one.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Goldfinger, Jennifer P. Hello, My Name Is Tiger. illus. by Jennifer P. Goldfinger. 40p. HarperCollins. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062399519.

PreS-K–The transition from home to school can be intimidating for any child. Young Toby, who has an animal alter ego, is a playful kitten at home and turns into an apprehensive tiger when he attends his first day of school. Knowing no one, Toby the Tiger shies away from the other children during recess, preferring to play by himself, and eventually climbs up a tree to observe the others playing. There he befriends Pete the Monkey, who is experiencing the same anxieties that Toby feels. They climb down out of the tree and start to play together. As they form a bond, they notice Lottie, and she joins in their activities. Together, they play and learn that although pretending to be animals is fun, so is being themselves. With simple, colorful chalklike drawings, this picture book is sensitive to how overwhelming new environments and situations can be to young children and delivers its message of adapting in an unassuming manner. VERDICT A good selection for children apprehensive about going to school and making new friends. Perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Vivian Ho, Port Washington Public Library, NY

Gutman, Dan. Rappy Goes to School. illus. by Tim Bowers. 40p. HarperCollins. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062291813.

Gr 1-3–Rappy the Raptor is back, and this time he tackles the universal experience of the first day of school. Rappy expresses his enthusiasm through rhyme to the excitement of his parents and schoolmates. When he encounters one of his classmates being bullied, he uses the power of rap to come to his aid and stands up to the big bad bully in the process. He makes a new friend and shows everyone that school can be cool. The author’s note in the beginning of the volume implores parents not to read the book but to “RAP IT!” Many readers, especially younger ones, may find this difficult, as the rhythm of many of the lines is off and will prove to be a challenge. Bowers’s digital illustrations capture the happy expressions of many of the characters. This is a slight story that readers may not find enthralling. Those seeking this type of tale may want to turn to Chris Raschka’s Hip Hop Dog. VERDICT Readers may want to look elsewhere for a rapping good time.–Christopher Lassen, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library

Hites, Kati. Winnie & Waldorf: Disobedience School. illus. by Kati Hites. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062311627.

PreS-Gr 1–In this follow-up to Winnie & Waldorf, the child discovers that her dog has chewed up some toys and books and enrolls him in Winnie’s Disobedience School. While there, Waldorf leans everything there is to learn from the perspective of a young child. Thus, lessons involve finding a cubby for his belongings and singing the ABCs, as well as all of the finer points of nap time. When it is time for gym class, Waldorf saves another “student” from running into the street by playing fetch. After a long, action-packed day teaching, Winnie must herself head to bed for her own visit to school the next day. The story is full of positive messages for children who may be anxious or worried about starting school. It’s also a playful and warmhearted tale about a girl and her dog. The simple plot and short sentences make it a good segue for newer readers into larger picture books. The watercolor illustrations are cute and cuddly. VERDICT A great addition to any collection and a solid read-aloud at the beginning of the school year.–Kaitlin Malixi, formerly at Virginia Beach Public Library

Hood, Susan. Mission: Back to School. illus. by Mary Lundquist. 32p. Random. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385384711.

Gr 1-3–Students are treated like special agents in this tongue-in-cheek training manual for returning to spy school. The vocabulary is rich, catering to budding espionage aficionados. But Lundquist’s soft, friendly sketches balance out the intrigue by depicting normal school routines. Student agents “suit up” when getting ready for school and arrive and meet their “Intelligence Officer,” a bespectacled yet youthful man. They “build diplomatic relations” when making friends and practice “decoding information” while sounding out words. When the whirlwind of recapturing a suspiciously furry rogue agent is over, they return home for their final reports. VERDICT Humorous details, diverse agents, and a full day’s worth of elementary school fieldwork make this an excellent choice for students on the first day of school.–Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

Janousky, Peggy Robbins. Move It, Miss Macintosh! illus. by Meghan Lands. 32p. Annick. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781554518630; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781554518623.

PreS-Gr 1 –Everyone gets nervous on the first day of school, even teachers. Miss Macintosh, a kindergarten teacher, has a case of the butterflies and decides to stay home instead. Luckily, Principal Bellwether and an assortment of other teachers arrive at her home to coax her into leaving bed. Each teacher helps her with an important task such as getting dressed, eating, and brushing her teeth. However, the true star is Miss Melody, the music teacher, who loves to sing when she’s nervous. Miss Melody begins to sing at the top of her lungs: “We’re in the same boat, we’re both kind of new. So let’s stick together just like paper and glue!” After an anxiety-filled bus ride, Miss Macintosh finally arrives at her kindergarten classroom and realizes that the children have butterflies, too. She makes up her own silly song instead of using Miss Melody’s, and the kids quickly begin giggling and laughing. The bright pen and ink illustrations and Miss Macintosh’s expressive face will keep readers turning pages in this reassuring story. VERDICT This is a perfect first day of school book for anyone who is feeling anxious. Hopefully we will be seeing more of Miss Macintosh and her fun colleagues in the future!–Brooke Newberry, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Katz, Alan. That Stinks!: A Punny Show-and-Tell. illus. by Stephen Gilpin. 32p. S. & S. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781416978800.

K-Gr 2 –In this clever picture book, a school day goes from boring to absurd when recess is cancelled because of bad weather. It all begins innocently when the teacher suggests show-and-tell and one student shouts out, “That stinks!” to the horror of everyone. However, when the page is turned, the child innocently introduces his pet skunk Harry. Another kid, seemingly enraged, shouts, “This totally bites!” and then goes on to show everyone a tarantula. The stakes and laughs increase as the remaining students top one another with wordplay and puns. Each child who “shows and tells” is added to the montage of proud students holding their treasures, which include a rotten banana and smelly cheese. The tale culminates with the teacher reciting all of the outrageous utterances only to have the principal come in and steal the show. The illustrations portray a diverse group of children and objects and are digitally depicted in a cartoon style that matches the story’s tone. VERDICT This selection will have kids roaring as they quickly catch on and gleefully wait to see what is actually being described.–Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, MI

Marshall, Linda E. Kindergarten Is Cool! illus. by Chris Chatterton. 32p. Scholastic/Cartwheel. Jul. 2016. Tr $8.99. ISBN 9780545652667.

PreS-K –Books to get kids ready for kindergarten are always welcome, and this title will help fill the need. With rhyming text that flows well, Marshall introduces readers to all aspects of the school day. “Go by bus, car, or walk.../On the way, there is talk/About new friends and school—/Teachers, pencils, books, rules.” Throughout the day, all the kids look happy. The brightly colored illustrations clearly represent the text while still feeling childlike and fun. The standard topics are covered: playtime, storytime, recess, and lunch, as well as a few pages devoted to making new friends. VERDICT A very good choice for those starting kindergarten, but it doesn’t extend beyond that audience.–Laura Stanfield, Campbell County Public Library, Fort Thomas, KY

Miller, Pat Zietlow. Sophie’s Squash Go to School. illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. 40p. ebook available. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553509441; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780553509458; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780553509465.

PreS-Gr 1–Who needs a friend when you have a squash? When readers last encountered the stubborn protagonist of Sophie’s Squash, the girl’s beloved Bernice was becoming freckled with spots and mushy. On the advice of the farmer, Sophie provides Bernice with fresh air, clean soil, and love (the squash gets buried by its favorite outdoor spot). Along with the arrival of the warm weather, a sprout appears, and, ultimately, Bernice’s two offspring arrive. Now Sophie is starting school, and with her go the small fruits named Bonnie and Baxter. Once there, the kindergartner encounters and vehemently rebuffs the friendly overtures of the persistent Steven Green (who carries around a frog). Slowly, the classroom activities and outdoor games of her classmates begin to attract Sophie’s interest, but it isn’t until Bonnie and Baxter are tucked in for their “winter nap” and her teacher’s question, “What makes a good friend?”, followed by a tussle with Steven, an apology, and a plan, that she realizes that friends come in all forms, including human. Young children will relate to Sophie’s unease in a new environment and her difficulty letting go of the familiar and comforting. Wilsdorf’s watercolor and ink art, filled with details, depict a colorful classroom complete with art projects, books, blocks, and enough activity (and humor) to tempt the most reluctant of preschoolers to give kindergarten a try. VERDICT A warm and encouraging look at starting school, perfect for reading aloud and small group sharing.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Parr, Todd. Teacher’s Rock. illus. by Todd Parr. 32p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316265126; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316265119.

PreS-Gr 1–A superb selection about teachers and all they do for their students. They teach children new things, inspire creativity, and help them realize their talents. The best ones make kids laugh, provide comfort, and help when it is needed the most. Teachers do their best to make their classrooms feel like they are the greatest place to be. They celebrate events throughout the year, take the class on field trips, and make families feel welcome. Teachers buy supplies and decorations, allow an assortment of creatures for show-and-tell, and assist students with all types of problems. A section at the end of the book helps young ones understand that teachers are regular people who sleep at night, spill things on the floor, brush their teeth, and even buy underwear. As with all of his titles, Parr has included simple and powerful, kid-friendly illustrations. The colors are bright, vivid, and eye-catching. Animal characters help make this book entertaining and truly diverse. VERDICT A fun offering to share with any preschool class.–Barbara Spiri, Southborough Library, MA

Rabe, Tish. On the First Day of Kindergarten. illus. by Laura Hughes. 32p. HarperCollins. Jun. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062348340.

PreS-K–This cumulative verse describes the joyful activities of the first few days of kindergarten. Only the first two verses rhyme and most, but not all, contain alliteration. Still, the lines scan well and beg to be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” For example, “On the third day of kindergarten/I thought it was so cool/counting up to ten, making lots of friends,/and riding the bus to my school!” The ink, paint, and collage digital illustrations have the hectic feel of a kindergarten class and feature a diverse group of students. VERDICT A general purchase for libraries looking to add to their first day of school collections, this one makes a good read/sing aloud.–Kelly Roth, Bartow County Public Library, Cartersville, GA

redstarRex, Adam. School’s First Day of School. illus. by Christian Robinson. 40p. Roaring Brook. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439641.

PreS-Gr 1–Step aside, other first day of school books: there’s a new school in town. After construction and a summer of tender loving care from the janitor, Frederick Douglass Elementary’s first day finally arrives. And what a day it is: hordes of children with all their feelings, mess, noise, new concepts, and even a fire alarm (which the school finds deeply embarrassing). Worried but curious, impetuous, and vulnerable, the school works as a perfect proxy for nervous child readers. Rex’s warm and goofy text is brought to life by Robinson’s vivid collage illustrations. His signature round-headed, tulip-handed figures are diverse and appealing, from the supportive janitor to the “little girl with freckles” who slowly warms up to school at the same time that the school is warming up to the children. VERDICT A+: an essential purchase that is simultaneously funny, frank, and soothing. A perfect first day read-aloud.–Sarah Stone, San Francisco Public Library

Robertson, Rachel. A Teacher’s Promise. illus. by Priscilla Prentice. 32p. Redleaf Lane. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781605544717.

PreS-Gr 1–Teachers do much more than provide instruction. This title highlights the positive aspects of a good teacher and the promises she makes to her students. She encourages children to dream and think big thoughts and will help them learn at their own pace. She wants to inspire them to explore their feelings and be sensitive to the feelings of others. She promises to help her students discover the importance of patience and kindness. She will motivate them to make friends and will be there to assist when they are learning to share. She wants to help young ones realize that mistakes are going to happen and that it’s okay—because everyone grows and learns from them. She also wants children to recognize that the classroom can be a magical place to learn. This is a short book told in verse. The rhyming words are straightforward and predictable. The simple illustrations are composed of bright colors and complement the text. Many parents hope that their children will encounter teachers who would make such promises and carry them through. VERDICT While this offering is a suitable gift for a new teacher or one who is well loved, its appeal to children is minimal and its saccharine tone limits its use in a library collection.–Barbara Spiri, Southborough Library, MA

Sauer, Tammi. Ginny Louise and the School Field Day. illus. by Lynn Munsinger. 32p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484730447.

PreS-Gr 1–The irrepressible star of Ginny Louise and the School Showdown is back, and this time she’s literally having a field day. Just the thought of sack races, ball tosses, and long-jump competition sends the exuberant little hedgehog over the moon with excitement. The prizes also catch the attention of the school’s troublemakers—Cap’n Catastrophe, Destructo Dude, and Make-My-Day May—who are determined to win them by hook or by crook. At each event, their dastardly schemes go awry and Ginny Louise prevails, fueled by her sheer enthusiasm. When the scalawags try to make off with her prizes during the refreshment hour, Ginny Louise calls for an impromptu parade with the whole school, and the scamps are guilted into apologizing for their bad behavior. This is a sweet and amusing story to share with preschoolers and kindergartners obsessed with winning and losing. Munsinger’s adorable animal characters and the silly scenarios help drive home the point that kindness counts and having fun with one’s friends is more important than besting them. VERDICT A winning choice for storytime and classroom sharing, especially in preparation for a field day or any other competition.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

Shreeve, Elizabeth. Captain Freddy Counts Down to School. illus. by Joey Chou. 38p. Amazon/Two Lions. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.00. ISBN 9781503950955.

PreS-Gr 1–Freddy is apprehensive about his first day of school, as he hides under the covers and imagines how far away and big it is, along with all the strange new faces he will encounter. In order to prepare himself for this overwhelming transition, “Captain” Freddy launches himself into important work at his pretend space station. The rocket ship is loaded, fuel tanks are filled, and engines are humming before he courageously steps onto the launchpad for the initial countdown. At liftoff, Freddy’s rocket zooms out of control until he is ejected and lands on an alien planet millions and millions of miles away from home, where he befriends an alien (his baby sister) who can communicate with him after an awkward start. Once home, he is finally able to “blast off to school.” Chou’s bright, meticulous illustrations and Shreeve’s text present just enough detail, albeit in simple fashion, to keep space lovers happy. Fans of all things space related should readily gravitate to this offering and will enjoy the informative space facts at the end. VERDICT A picture book adventure best appreciated by lovers of the solar system and planets who are about to confront the challenges of the first day of school.–Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

Staub, Leslie. Time for (Earth) School, Dewey Dew. illus. by Jeff Mack. 32p. Boyds Mills. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781590789582.

PreS-Gr 2–Click-Clack Waddle-Waddle Dot-Dot Dewey Dew does not want to go to school. Not on his planet or on the moons of Jupiter or on the Space Station Zoomalot. And he definitely does not want to go to Ms. Brightsun’s School for Little Learners on Earth. Nonetheless, his mom makes him go because everyone has to go to school somewhere. Dewey Dew feels out of place. His new shoes pinch, his socks droop, his pants come up too high, and his shirt doesn’t fit. His mother tells him everything is going to be okay and sends him on his way. But nothing is okay. Dewey Dew knows he is out of place at this new school, which makes him even sadder. Then he meets his classmate J.J., who invites Dewey Dew to stand with him in line with a smile, and that instantly makes Dewey Dew feel better. He smiles so brightly, his happiness flies all the way past the space station and the moons of Jupiter to his home planet, and he knows that everything will be okay. Children who have never been to school or are having to switch schools will instantly relate to Dewey Dew. His feelings of alienation and loneliness in a new place are ones that many children have despite assurances from parents that everything will be okay. The linear story follows Dewey throughout his day, and his colorful vocabulary conveys his feelings of not belonging. The illustrations are lovely, and the faces in Dewey Dew’s classroom are diverse and reflective of classrooms today. VERDICT A fun read-aloud and a wonderful discussion starter for most collections.–Paige Garrison, Augusta Richmond County Library System, GA

redstarSullivan, Deirdre. Ming Goes to School. illus. by Maja Löfdahl. 32p. Sky Pony. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510700505.

PreS-Gr 2–A sweet and spare text introduces a preschool girl named Ming on her first day of school. A vibrant and multiethnic cast of children share and grow with Ming throughout the year. The seasons shift subtly, as conveyed through the changing artwork of the students, displayed on a classroom window in softly burnished tones with fuzzy, rather than sharp, lines. Ming’s school is where “magic fairy castles are built from sticks…/and growing up takes time.” A thoughtful teacher watches a pensive Ming as she observes the other students on the big red slide—not ready to join them. The narrative ends with the declaration, “It’s where all things…/Are worth waiting for,” and the final spread shows Ming leaving her backpack behind as she runs toward the red slide, ready to give it a try. The symbiotic nature of the text and diffuse watercolors carries this quiet offering, distinguishing it from other school stories and making it one that should be shared. VERDICT This beautiful tale with gentle illustrations is an ode to the milestone of attending school for the first time and all it entails.–Lisa Kropp, Lindenhurst Memorial Library, NY

Van Slyke, Rebecca. Dad School. illus. by Priscilla Burris. 32p. Knopf. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385388955.

PreS-Gr 1–What is Dad School? Lucas, the young narrator of this picture book, envisions it as a place where studious men gather to learn how to fix boo-boos, mend leaky faucets, and make fabulous food like giant sandwiches with pickles and chips. Van Slyke fills the pages with affectionate commentary and only occasional snark: “Sometimes I think my dad missed the days they taught about matching clothes, brushing hair, and cleaning the bathroom.... But I’m glad he was there when they taught about making ice cream sundaes, telling silly stories, and giving piggyback rides when I’m too tired to walk anymore.” Lucas decides that his father must have been the best student at Dad School and that he takes his position seriously. Children will be swept along by Burris’s upbeat, endearing illustrations. VERDICT A likable and loving tribute to dads and a worthy successor to Mom School, an earlier collaboration.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

Yoon, Salina. Bear’s Big Day. illus. by Salina Yoon. 40p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Jun. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780802738325.

PreS–Bear is very excited about going to school, and these pages will prepare readers for what will surely be a grand adventure. Bear can cut his own pancakes. He has a backpack full of supplies. But as he gives his precious Floppy a goodbye hug, it takes no more than Yoon’s deft alteration of the little bear’s mouth for viewers to know that things may not turn out as he had hoped. Indeed, missing Floppy practically ruins his day. Luckily, Bear’s perceptive teacher helps him make a little pocket on his backpack so that the two can continue on their adventures. Preschoolers will have noticed that some of the other students depend on their own “special friends” during the school day, too, and can easily connect with the notion that “being big doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself.” Yoon’s trademark digital black-outlined illustrations provide a vivid background for this tight little tale aimed at the youngest students. VERDICT A great read-aloud for the beginning of preschool and perfect for one-on-one sharing.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence, RI

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