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Education Matters

Back to School Book Reviews

September 1st, 2016

  1. If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to

School, Don’t!

o Written by: Elise Parsley

o Age Range: 4-8 years

o Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 2

An engaging and quirky read, “If You Ever Want to Bring an  Alligator to School, Don’t” tells the story of Magnolia who decides to bring a mischievous Alligator for show and tell

and the havoc that ensues. Written in free verse, readers will humourously learn that there can be consequences of misbehaving (or bringing an alligator to school that

misbehaves on your behalf). This is a must read aloud story; full of animation in both text and illustrations, that is guaranteed to provide many laugh out loud moments for

readers of all ages.

  1. Follow the Line to School

o Written by: Laura Ljungkvist

o Age Range: 4-7 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 1

This guided “seek and find” style picture book provides a unique way in which readers can become acquainted with what they might find in their own school. As an interactive book, readers are invited to participate in the story as they are asked questions about the different classrooms as they follow the line through the school. There is an abundance of details in each classroom that will appeal to various attention levels of readers. The active exploration combined with colourful illustrations is a great way to spread the joy of learning and prepare readers for the upcoming school year.

  1. My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not.)

o Written by: Peter Brown

o Age Range: 3-8 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 2

Bobby’s and his teacher Ms. Kirby, (who happens to be a monster) are at odds. She is always roaring, stomping and taking recess away while Bobby is misbehaving and

throwing airplanes. As Bobby goes to his favourite place in the park, he runs into the terrible Ms. Kirby. Rather than trying to avoid his teacher, Bobby decides to approach Ms. Kirby. Throughout the day, as Bobby and Ms. Kirby interact and learn of their shared interests they discover that there is more than what meets the eye about each other. Through mixed media illustrations, amusing narrative, and tongue in cheek humour the story gives a kind message on the importance of perception and proper actions to receive the same in return. This gradual humanization of Ms. Kirby, emphasizing that even grumpy teachers are people too will be helpful to dispel potential fears of teachers that readers may have in the upcoming school year.

  1. School’s First Day of School

o Written by: Adam Rex

o Illustrated by: Christian Robinson

o Age Range: 3-8 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 2

This colourful picture book is the perfect new read aloud to help soothe first day of school nerves. Told from the perspective of Frederick Douglass Elementary, this

anthropomorphized school expresses his concern about how the children will act once they arrive, whether they will like the school; and if they will be nice to him. This “if walls could talk” narrative is a charming perspective that creates a unique sense of empathy while capturing the nerves of a first day in new surroundings.

  1. David Goes to School

o Written by: David Shannon

o Age Range: 4-8 years

o Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 2

David is in trouble again. In the follow-up to the award-winning picture book to “No, David!” David is now at school and full of energy and mischief, much to the chagrin of his

teacher. He is running in the halls. He is yelling. He is throwing food in food fights. He is cutting in line. He is late for class. This charming picture book illustrates in a nearly

wordless format how David, despite being an adorable character, has to pay the consequences for misbehaving. These all too familiar situations are guaranteed to give some laughs to readers of all ages, yet also provide an opportunity to discuss what consequences are and review the expected behaviours and rules of school.

  1. Ally-saurus & the First Day of School

o Written by: Richard Torrey

o Age Range: 3-8 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 2

Ally-saurus loves dinosaurs. As she leaves for her first day of school, Ally-saurus really hopes that she’ll meet someone who is as dinosaur-crazy as she is. Imaginations abound at recess, where Ally discovers there are pirates, princesses, dragons, and astronauts. Initially, as a dinosaur, Ally has a hard time fitting in and matching her passion to that of other children. A visit to the Library at the end of the day ultimately encourages the importance of accepting each other’s interests to experience new adventures together. The pastel colours are a perfect contrast to the black and white pencil drawings highlighting the make-believe interactions of the children while ultimately fostering childhood imagination and creativity. This is a great read that will help relieve school nerves, especially on the topics of being different, and accepting others interests, and making new friends.

  1. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

o Written by: Eric Litwin

o Illustrated by: James Dean

o Age Range: 3-7 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 1

Pete the Cat is back and is rocking in his new school shoes. In the second book of the ever popular “Pete the Cat” series by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean, young readers follow Pete the Cat as he excitedly goes to school. This picture book is full of colourful cartoon illustrations enhanced by the text in the form of song lyrics. For extra entertainment, the song can be downloaded or accessed fromwww.petethecatbooks.com. With his positive and confident attitude, Pete the Cat engages the reader(s) through songs and rhymes as he explores the different areas of the school in his new shoes. This is a fun read to help excite young readers as the begin school.

  1. Monsters Love School

o Written by: Mike Austin

o Age Range: 3-8 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 2

The adorable, scribbly monsters from Monsters Love Colours are back! This time the monsters are off to Monster School. There are a few nerves amongst all the excitement of starting school, especially for Blue. As the day progresses, and with some encouragement and help from Little Gray and Miss Wiggles, Blue begins to see the merits of school beyond learning his alphabet and numbers. The storyline is simple, yet

still entertaining and optimistic. With vibrant illustrations and varied text sizes, it will easily hold the attention of curious young readers starting or returning to school.

  1. The Recess Queen

o Written by: Richard Torrey

o Age Range: 3-9 years

o Grade Level: Preschool to Grade 3

No one dares cross Mean Jean, the Recess Queen. Her classmates cower in her wake, afraid to throw a ball or sit on a swing without permission first from Mean

Jean. That is, until the new kid Katie Sue comes to school. Written in rhyme, this story is full of fun to say phrases creating a great read aloud while lightheartedly presenting the issue of bullying. Rather than allow Mean Jean to continue her bullying ways, Katie Sue confronts her and her behavior with kindness rather than harm. In a compassionate twist, Katie Sue does not become the new Recess Queen. Instead she simply invites Mean Jean to join the rest of the children and play together. The author, Richard Torrey, presents the issue of bullying in a unique manner while impressing upon readers the valuable lesson of being nice to one another; ultimately making this picture book a different, yet important beginning of school year read aloud.

Sarah Schmidt is a Reference Service Librarian at Wood Buffalo Regional Library.

Tags: Books, kids

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