The First Day of School

illus. by John Bendall-Brunello. 32p. (Puppy & Bear). Amazon/Two Lions. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781503950962.
PreS-Gr 1—Puppy happens upon Bear, bored and grouchy, sitting under a tree. Puppy convinces Bear to play, and the happiest of friendships begins. The friends play all summer long until one day Bear doesn't come to the forest. It is the first day of school and Bear does not want to be late. Puppy, saddened to lose his buddy to school, patiently waits for him. When Bear doesn't show up after school, the dog tries playing by himself and then takes a nap. Bear finds Puppy sleeping in the forest. He assures Puppy they are best friends and will play every day after school through all the seasons. Eventually, Puppy will be old enough to go to school, too. Softly washed illustrations in watercolor and pencil create an engagingly serene backdrop for Bear and Puppy's bond. All the characters in the book, including classmates in the schoolyard, are anthropomorphized animals in clothing complete with scarves and backpacks. The story is told in straightforward conversations between Bear and Puppy and omniscient point of view.
VERDICT Bear and Puppy's relationship, may help children adjust to the childhood plight of missing a dear friend, whether to the school day or other reasons.

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