First Day, Worst Day

Little Simon. (The Very Worst Ever: Bk. 1). Jan. 2024. 128p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665942218; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781665942201.
Gr 2-4–Get ready to laugh out loud! The hero, who insists on anonymity, ricochets through his disastrous first day in a new school. “I’ll tell you,” he narrates, “Mondays bring a fresh start. And for an unlucky kid like me, that’s worth a thousand Saturdays. Mondays mean last week’s mistakes are in the past.” His climactic disasters at school and at home are balanced with humor, mystery, and luck, and the development of blossoming friendships indicates that his luck might finally be changing. This title is the first in a series of “The Very Worst Ever” books designed to capture and hold the interest of reluctant readers. The black-and-white, half-page illustrations, which evoke comic books and graphic novels, are paired with short, action-packed paragraphs in double-spaced, readable print. Relative newcomer Jindra (How To Train Your Pet Brain and Lumber Baby) has illustrated this humorous story for early elementary students. The school surroundings are realistic and the characters demonstrate age-appropriate emotions and relationships with peers and adults.
VERDICT Pair this chapter book with similar series for reluctant readers in this age group, including “The Time Warp Trio,” “My Weirder School,” and “Sideways Stories from Wayside School.”

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