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LITTLE CLIFF’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Clifton L. Taulbert Kirkus Star


by Clifton L. Taulbert & illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-2557-4
Publisher: Dial

The first day of first grade looms, and Little Cliff has sadly lined up his toys to bid goodbye: “ ‘I can’t play with y’all no more. I gotta go to Miss Maxey’s school way down the road, a million miles from here. I know you gonna miss me, ’cause I miss y’all already.’ ” Next morning, great-grandmother Mama Pearl accompanies him to the playground—where he delightedly discovers that, contrary to what the grown-ups around him have been implying, there’s going to be more to school than “work, work, work,” and “quiet, quiet, quiet.” With expert, warmly sympathetic realism, Lewis captures Little Cliff’s hangdog face and body language to perfection; young children having their own qualms about school will readily identify with this reluctant scholar, and so may share his relief at the end as well. It won’t matter that this is set in the rural 50s, a time of lunch buckets and suspenders and brown oxfords. This is some of Lewis’s best work, emotion-laden watercolors capturing an important time and place. There’s something here for older readers to ponder too, in Mama Pearl’s unexplained tears and pride as Little Cliff races off to join his friends in the schoolyard. An affecting sequel to Little Cliff and the Porch People (1999) that was the first to offer some of Taulbert’s characters from his adult memoirs to young readers. (Picture book. 5-7)