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School is right around the corner and what better time of year to help youngsters ages four through eight be prepared than through helpful books?

N PetecatPete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus, based on the creation of James Dean, is filled with learning lessons. The watercolor and acrylic paint is bright and eye-catching and the text is easy to help children learn to read. The book is actually a take-off of the popular song, The Wheels on the Bus”, with a few variances. The pictures of Pete and his riders (which are mostly cats) are hilarious. After reading through this book to your child, he/she will likely be able to read most of it alone back to you. (Make sure you and your child point to each word as you both read out-loud). There are also lessons to learn throughout the book. Discussions could abound with why the signals blink, the components of the bus, and how to invite others to sit with you.

Tony Baloney: School Rules, by Pam Munoz Ryan, and illustrated digitally by Edwin Fotheringham, is a smallish sized book that takes Tony, a penguin, through his first day of school. He quickly learns about the many new rules which he is supposed to obey but he has problems following them. What Tony does learn is that at the end of the day, it’s okay to make mistakes: just learn from them and try to do better next time. What more could any of us want from our youngsters?

Joe and Sparky Go To School, by Jamie Michalak, and painted with watercolor and colored pencil by Frank Remkiewicz, is actually one book in a series about Joe and Sparky. All of these books are short chapter books featuring Joe, a giraffe, and his little friend Sparky, a turtle. This engaging story will take them through their first day at school where they learn much during their eventful day.

N clarksharkClark the Shark, by Bruce Hale, and brightly illustrated by Guy Francis, is a delight to read out loud. There’s much onomatopoeia and enthusiasm as young Clark swims to his first day of school, but must learn to quell his excitement and use his inside voice in class.

Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School, created by Neville Astley and Mark Baker, is one in a series of picture books featuring this adorable sweet swine. Peppa is have a very busy day at school learning so many things such as numbers and music. But when Special Talent time comes, she is worried about her special talent because others chose the same talent. When her classmates come to her rescue, Peppa strives to do her best!

N AmeliaAmelia Bedelia’s First Library Card, by Herman Parish, and illustrated with gouache and black pencil by Lynne Avril, is the sixth Amelia Bedelia title by Parish. Amelia continues the tradition of taking words literally, walking through the stacks (not of hay) and the fun and humor is found throughout. But also there is much to learn about the library and this makes this book very enlightening!

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class, by Ethan Long, has a great lesson about how to treat others, and in turn, how to be treated. Chamelia is used to standing out in her class. But it all changes when a new student steals the show. She attempts to upend his antics, but discovers something very important in life and with her peers. The digitally enhanced collage and texture of Chamelia stands out, along with the other visual looks which emanate the feelings and attitudes of her friends.

Bobbo Goes to School, by Shirley Hughes, explores the adventures and experiences of a typical school day and will help give youngsters a better understanding of what makes up a school day. Young Lily does a horrible thing: she accidentally throws her beloved stuffed Bobbo up in the air and it lands on top of a school bus as it departs a stop. Now we go through Bobbo’s eventful day as students care for him throughout their school day. The wonderful expressions of the children, and the realistically depicted classroom setting, gives a great understanding of a typical school day. Also, the gouache paintings are a perfect rendering and match for the story.

N SplatSplat and the Cool School Trip, by Rob Scotton, is a great introduction to school field trips. Splat, the Cat, is excited to visit the zoo with his class and he can’t wait to see the penguin exhibit. But when the penguin exhibit is shut down, Splat goes home disappointed. But wait! There’s a surprise waiting for him! The vivid colors of all the animals, along with the funny expressions on their faces, will bring smiles to all!

My New Teacher and Me!, by Al Yankovic, and illustrated with full-page watercolor, pencil and digital acrylic by Wes Hargis, is a rhyming tale about Billy as he enters his new class and his teacher getting upset with his dirty shirt. Billy tells him, I was digging to China out in my backyard / And I almost was there when – I hit something Hard!” The lessons learned here celebrate creativity and imagination. Both teacher and Billy learn much from each other. 


Holly Newton
Newton’s Book News