In the tradition of back-to-school books that focus on the teacher, such as Julie Danneberg’s First Day Jitters (2000), this outing demonstrates that they are human, with the same fears and worries that their students face.
George cleverly leads readers to believe that Tortoise is just another kid worrying about school. He flies kites, wears a backpack and tends to trip a lot. And on the first day of school, after getting dressed and eating a good breakfast, the what-ifs start to plague him. “What if he tripped and fell? Or he didn’t like lunch? Or the kids were mean to him?” Worse yet, what if all three happened at the same time? The what-ifs paralyze him on the steps of the school, where he sits pondering. But some positive thinking turns those what-ifs around: “What if it was fun? Or lunch was his favorite? Or he made lots of new friends?” Or better yet, all three. He wouldn’t want to miss that! He bravely opens the door, greets everyone, and it is finally revealed that this is Mr. Tortoise, the teacher, who was so worried. Light colors and simple details mark Eyckerman’s illustrations, which keep George’s true professorial identity a secret right until the very end. Her characters embody the charm and innocence of young children.
A great pep-talk for nervous newcomers to school, and some reassurance that even teachers can worry about the first day. (Picture book. 4-7)