Going to school doesn’t mean leaving childhood behind; stuffed lovies have a place still.

BEAR'S BIG DAY

Bear may be big enough for school, but that doesn’t mean he has to do everything by himself now.

Bear is excited and proud to be going to school for the first time. He has a big-bear backpack with pockets for each of his school supplies: his lunchbox, glue, pencil case, and crayons. But there’s no place for Floppy, his stuffed bunny. Readers with their own beloved stuffies will intuitively sense what the story’s problem will be from Bear’s sad glance back at Floppy, who is sitting propped up on Bear’s windowsill. Sure enough, “something—or someone—was missing,” and Bear doesn’t color or eat snack or nap with his classmates. Miss Fox notices and asks what the matter is. Bear figures he’s just not ready for school yet, but she tells him that “even big teachers need help sometimes.” Together, they use craft supplies to fashion a pocket for Floppy, and Bear enjoys the second day doing big-bear things with Floppy securely in his backpack (alongside the stuffed pals of Bear’s classmates). Yoon’s digital illustrations use bold black lines, simple shapes, and bright colors to focus attention on the characters, and Bear’s feelings are evident. His classmates include a lamb, a moose, and a panda (who eats snack with chopsticks).

Going to school doesn’t mean leaving childhood behind; stuffed lovies have a place still. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3832-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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