If your child is fighting the back-to-school blues, then check out these terrific picture books. Sure to allay first-day fears, each one takes a lighthearted look at life in the classroom. The lesson is clear: School’s not awful—it’s awesome!
CANINES IN THE CLASSROOM
Parents looking for a painless way to broach the subject of school with their young ones will love Dog-Gone School by husband-and-wife collaborators Amy and Ron Schmidt. Pairing her original, school-related poems with his colorful photographs, this hilarious book lets readers tag along to class with a pack of mischievous, adorable dogs. Ron Schmidt posed the pooches in classic school settings and somehow caught them on camera: A wirehaired terrier stands atop a tower of books in order to access a water fountain; a Jack Russell terrier and his pit bull sidekick—partners in crime—wait outside the principal’s office. With examples of haiku, free verse and onomatopoeia, this charming collection serves as a terrific introduction to poetry while making the prospect of school seem awfully appealing. Sure to get high marks from little readers.
A WARM SCHOOL WELCOME
Ready and Waiting for You by author Judi Moreillon is an appealing little story that’s tailor-made for soothing school-related stress. With flapped pages that open up like doors and sensational torn-paper collage illustrations by Catherine Stock, this visually beguiling book depicts school staff and students in a variety of vibrant scenes—on the crowded playground, in the bustling cafeteria, aboard the big yellow bus—where they’re waiting to welcome new arrivals. “Come in through this door. Are you new?” are words repeated regularly throughout the book. The cheery salutation makes new students feel comfortable and gives them a sense of belonging. Stock achieves an incredible level of detail through her precise, expressive collages, which overflow with energy and texture. This lively story is perfect for youngsters who need a bit of back-to-school nurturing.
CALMING THE NERVES
The title of Heather Hartt-Sussman’s new book says it all: Noni Is Nervous. The prospect of the first day of school sends Noni, the story’s adorably anxious heroine, into a nail-biting, hair-twisting frenzy. She worries about wearing the wrong thing and envisions her teacher as a fanged monster. Her family tries to assuage her fears, to little avail. Noni somehow survives the first day, and on the second, her luck picks up: She meets an extroverted girl named Briar, who introduces her to a slew of new friends. Noni soon gets the hang of the school routine and finds that she fits right in. Geneviève Côté, who contributed the story’s appealing illustrations, is the sort of artist who can create an expressive figure with a few well-placed lines. She gives Noni a broad, beaming, peaches-’n’-cream face.
A character kids will love, Noni has an important lesson to share: This school stuff is a cinch! All it takes is patience, time and—yep!—a little bit of courage.