Despite some jitters, Brown Bear not only survives his first day; he helps others succeed as well.
Brown Bear and his family have done everything they can in preparation: goodbyes from his father and older brother, lunchbox packed, money for milk, and a new sweater, scarf, and bookbag. But still, he’s worried: What if the other students don’t like him? What if he can’t hear the teacher? What if he’s not wearing the right clothes? His mother talks him through each worry: Many of his friends will be at school; he will hear her even if she whispers; and if his clothes aren’t right, they’ll go shopping. Sure enough, his friends are at school, and they are all dressed similarly. More importantly, though, Brown Bear keeps his friend safe when their ball goes over the fence and is welcoming when Baby Bunny, who’s new to the area, needs a friend. Troublingly, a major focus seems to be on material things and fitting in. Baby Bunny is quick to explain that while her lunch is in a paper bag, she and her mother are going shopping after school. This will exclude kids who can’t afford the typical back-to-school shopping trip as well as those who march to a different drummer. Aizen’s illustrations are charming, the simple backgrounds and scribbly style reminiscent of a child’s artwork.
The materialistic focus limits the audience for this title. (Picture book. 4-6)