It is easy to misconstrue everything that happens on a not-so-good first day of school when a new girl upsets the balance between two friends.
Cowgirl Nellie Sue is excited about the brand-new day of school ahead of her. But starting with the bus ride, her day goes downhill. Her friend Anna is sitting (and talking!) with some other girl. And Anna and the straight-laced Maya seem to be best buds all day long—from their seats next to each other and their giggling and whispering to Maya’s stepping on Nellie Sue’s shoelace and causing her to fall—leaving poor Nellie Sue to feel left out. When Maya’s attempt to reach out to Nellie Sue backfires, Maya then seeks her out, and the two immediately become fast friends. While the girls’ detente is way too easy and somewhat unrealistic, Nellie Sue’s spirit and determination remain consistent with her previous outings, and her message is an important one: “It was a brand-new day, and I decided it would go just my way.” Avril’s watercolor and gouache illustrations capture the girls’ emotions, and she nicely shows the three friends’ different personalities through their clothing choices, hairstyles and the five things they have added to their “all-about-me” bags.
Girls having friendship troubles may not find the solutions they seek here, but Nellie Sue does have a can-do attitude that will resonate with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)