Anya doesn’t seem at all worried that it’s the start of a new school year, but the tiger tail she’s sprouted overnight is a huge cause for concern.
Her mom and dad just don’t understand her anxiety about it. Mom says “It brings out your fun, wild side,” and dad compares it to when he first got glasses. Obviously, she’ll have to find her own solution. But the tail will not come off and can’t be hidden. Her mother’s comments only serve to give Anya more ideas, but mom doesn’t buy that she’s sick, and dad sees missing the bus as a bonding opportunity. Just as she’s imagining a circus career, a boy with his nose stuck in a book bumps into her; this dislodges his baseball cap, which is hiding a pair of rabbit ears. And the class picture on the final spread reveals that a tiger tail isn’t so bad. In Boldt’s digital illustrations, Anya appears to be white and has a mane of reddish curls (the tail really does complement them nicely) that perfectly matches her freaked-out demeanor, and her facial expressions are masterful. Her classmates are diverse in every way and include a girl in a wheelchair, a kid wearing headphones, a boy sporting glasses, and a male teacher of color.
Anya isn’t the only kid who worries about being different on the first day; no matter how unique, though, readers are sure to find a niche to call their own. (Picture book. 4-8)