With tongue firmly in cheek, Wohnoutka recognizes that kids going to school for the first time aren’t the only ones who are nervous.
Oliver and his dad have spent a wonderful summer bonding and doing all sorts of fabulous things—readers will get the distinct impression that this is a stay-at-home dad. But now it’s time for school to start. Oliver’s ready. His dad? Not so much. “Oliver’s dad didn’t feel so good.” Oliver reassures him, “you’re just a little nervous,” and then tries to get him moving. But, like a toddler when his parent is late, there are just a few things Oliver’s dad has to do before leaving, including putting a puzzle together and hiding in three different places. When Oliver finally gets his dad to school, the teacher has to pry him off Oliver. Wohnoutka’s gouache illustrations, and the way they play up the deadpan text for humor, are the real stars here. “The teacher walked Oliver’s dad outside,” carrying him kicking and screaming, Oliver calmly saying goodbye, a smile on his face. After he disconsolately does some chores for a bit, a quick peek through the classroom window puts Oliver’s dad at ease; he’s finally ready for school. Though Oliver and his dad are both Caucasian, the teacher is brown-skinned, possibly Latina.
By the end of the book, readers will be all set for school too: this is sure to provoke shared laughter that will calm the fears of even the most unready parents. (Picture book. 3-7)