Lena projects her nervousness about the first day of school onto her shoes, but how does one reach détente with footwear?
Lena is very excited for school. So is her dress, which is “very outgoing.” But those shoes are quaking in their, um, shoes. Lena’s dad suggests talking to them, but Lena is very matter-of-fact: They’re shoes. Duh! But her other clothes can talk to her footwear. Lena puts her headband next to her shoes and listens as the shoes express their fear: School is “big and loud and different.” The headband reminds the shoes of similar situations that they got through by being brave together, vignettes showing a doctor visit, a scary movie, and a big dog. The shoes are still unsure, so Lena announces she’ll wear her slippers. That does it. The final spread shows all the schoolchildren from the waist down, their shoes the focus. The seemingly digital illustrations use flat, solid colors in bright hues against brilliant backgrounds, several pages just black and white outlines with a few items picked out in vivid color for effect. Beige-skinned Lena’s dad’s skin is several shades darker than her own, and he has puffy brown hair. Her classmates are diverse and include a girl in hijab and a child in a wheelchair. The reminder of other tough situations survived may not be enough to calm readers’ own fears, however, despite the appealing whimsy of the device.
A novel though probably not universal look at first-day jitters. (Picture book. 3-7)