This delicate Japanese import is less about assuaging school fears than about a tricky mother who gets her children to go to school against their many and varied protests.
It is the day before school starts, and the septuplets ("like twins only there are seven") are all ready for school with new hats, bags and shoes. But Mother must face the fact that her children do not want to go to school. They’ll be too tired, the wind will be too cold, they’ll meet a snake and they won’t know anyone; these are among their many excuses. Cleverly, Mother plans for the morning by unwinding two balls of yarn, making parallel lines that stretch from home all the way to school. She is unruffled when the children ignore her announcement that it is time for school—she just calmly steps out, stands between the strings and announces that the school train is departing. This piques the kids’ interest, and they are out of the house in no time, following along. But will some of their fears come true? This episode is a rather disappointing departure from the septuplets’ previous adventure, in which they were the ones to solve the problem (Mice at the Beach, 1987). Iwamura’s precise, softly colored illustrations, while adorable, add little narrative heft to the slight story.
Some students may jump on the train to act this out on the first day of school, but it lacks the humor that would give it lasting appeal. (Picture book. 3-5)