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School is back in session!  I have reviewed some wonderful picture books on this subject to help little ones prepare for this new experience.  These books are good for ages four through eight.

Truman, by Jean Reidy, and brilliantly illustrated using gouache, brush marker, charcoal, colored pencil and then finished digitally by Lucy Ruth Cummins, captures the essence of facing new challenges.  A pet turtle, Truman, notices his young owner, Sarah, has a new backpack on her back and then she steps on the bus.  Before she went out the door, she left him extra food and whispered for him to be brave.  This is all disconcerting and so he sets out to find her.  This lovely story has many elements to discuss which include:  many items to count (such as the amount of beans Sarah leaves him for the day) and the emotion and excitement involved when beginning something new.

Perfect, by Max Amato, is an excellent story illustrating that you don’t need to be perfect all the time in everything.  It’s OK to make mistakes.  The two main characters in this story begin to finally work together after experiencing several conflicts with each other.  An eraser desires everything to be perfect all the time. But pencil is continually making scribbles until both realize they can work harmoniously.  There are very few words in the entire book and the artwork was done with photographs and hand-drawn image collages in Adobe Photoshop.

Superbuns!: Kindness is Her Superpower, by Diane Kredensor, tells us what is really important in getting along with others.  Kindness will get you through even the most difficult situations which the story showcases.  Superbuns has a sister who acts like she knows everything.  But her perspective of her little sister completely changes when they encounter a fox which frightens them.  But Superbuns’ kindness wins the day and changes her sister’s attitude toward her.  This is a great book for the first day of school.  The comic-style pictures were created digitally.

Angry Cookie, by Laura Dockrill, and with amusing digital illustrations by Maria Karipidou, is a rollicking story helping youngsters deal with their emotions.  This hilariously drawn cookie is talking to you, the reader, and is already annoyed because you have opened the book.  His roommate, a silly looking cactus, is now annoying him because he doesn’t like the song she is playing on a recorder.  It seems everything around this droll cookie makes him angry until he changes and begins to see a brighter side to everything that he had just complained about. This brightly colorful book will likely help put smiles on their turned down mouths!

The Pigeon HAS to GO to School!,by Mo Willems, is the read-out-loud for your new schoolers.  The storyline addresses the anxieties and fears children face prior to their first day of school.  In Willems’ trademark hilarious art, Pigeon is absolutely adamant that he does NOT want to go to school.  All the questions he raises can easily be addressed with your little one helping qualm his or her fears. The resolution to this darling picture book is perfect.  This book is a must for the first day of school!

So Big!, by Mile Wohnoutla, has the same two words found throughout: “so big”.  Each page shows different experiences as a young bear goes off to school for the first time.  Some of these reflect pride when he puts on his new clothes and when he’s walking off to the bus stop.  Some of the experiences show fear when he’s sitting near other students much bigger than him and when he approaches the very large school. The bright artwork was created with Holbein Acrylic gouache paint and on press watercolor paper.  This is a clever use of words to show the good and bad of new situations.

I’m Worried, by Michael Ian Black, and brightly illustrated digitally by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, is the third book these two have successfully published about feelings.  The same unusual characters are once again gathered as the flustered little potato states that he’s worried.  He’s not sure what is coming in the near future and that has him worried.  The pink flamingo seems to become worried as well.  But the little girl reassures them both that bad things can happen to us all, but eventually it all works out.  This is another perfect setting for first day jitters.

Ruby Finds a Worry, by Tom Percival, finds sweet happy Ruby finding something one day she hasn’t seen before: A Worry.  This Worry is portrayed as a small yellow ball.  But each day, it gets bigger and bigger until it becomes giant in size.  It all is resolved wonderfully when she meets a boy and discovers others have worries as well and learns the best way to get rid of it.  The vivid illustrations were digitally drawn using Kyle Webster’s natural media brushes for Photoshop as well as a selection of hand-painted textures.

Grumpy Duck, by Joyce Dunbar, and brightly painted with mixed media by Petr Horacek, has duck out of sorts feeling grumpy because the pond is dry.  She complains to each animal and they respond by giving her suggestions.  The dog invites her to dig holes with him.  Her retort is a grumpy “Digging holes would make my feathers dirty”.   Each animal is treated with a similar grumpy answer from Duck.  But when it begins to rain, everything changes for the better. The last page is spectacular and definitely not grumpy!

Stewart’s Best Pen, by Stephen W. Martin, and comically painted with cartoon expressions by Karl Newsom Edwards, is a story about friendship.  But this book presents this attribute way beyond ordinary friendship.  Stewart’s best friend is a pen, yes, a pen!  And this pen even has a name: Craig.  They do what best friends do – depend on each other and do pretty much everything together.  That is until Stewart loses Craig!  What does Stewart end up doing?  This engaging story has a nice way to solve Stewart’s dilemma.

First Day of Groot, by Brendan Deneen, and brightly illustrated by Cale Atkinson, showcases not only Groot and his friend Rocky, but other super heroes that kids will easily recognize.  The rhyming text makes this a fun read-out-loud.  You’ll find adventure / at every turn. / Now come on, quick / it’s time to learn. The firsts that they encounter include a ride on a spaceship bus and learning to share with other super heroes.