Put away the swimsuits and break out the backpacks—the first day of school is right around the corner! Read on for three totally terrific classroom tales that will help students shift gears and focus on fall. Prepare to have a straight-A school season!
BEFRIENDING THE BULLIES
Tammi Sauer’s Ginny Louise and the School Showdown is a rip-roarin’ classroom adventure that readers will love any time of the year. Chaos reigns at Truman Elementary thanks to a bad bunch of bullies. There’s Cap’n Catastrophe, a porcupine pirate; Destructo Dude, a mischievous pig; and Make-My-Day May, an outlaw raccoon. This “scowly, growly crowd” is perpetually disturbing the peace, kicking their classmates out of the sandbox and overturning bookshelves. But things change with the arrival of a new student named Ginny Louise. A happy-go-lucky hedgehog with a personality impervious to bullying, she extends friendship to the threesome and eventually wins them over. A spirit of camaraderie soon rules the school, and that calls for a celebration—a classroom hoedown, for which Ginny Louise breaks out her fiddle. Yee-haw! Lynn Munsinger’s irresistible illustrations of the Truman Elementary menagerie make this tale feel timeless. The takeaway here: Be kind to everyone—even (and especially) bullies.
Mike Wohnoutka turns the tables on the traditional back-to-school story with his fun all-ages picture book, Dad’s First Day. The summer weeks skip by for Oliver and his pop. They read books, play ball and generally pal around. On the first day of class, Oliver’s eager to go, but Dad’s dragging. He isn’t feeling well. He hides behind the couch and ducks into the closet. Oliver coaxes him out, and they drive to school at a snail’s pace. Whose first day is it, anyway? When Dad sees the fun that Oliver has in class, his anxiety ends, and he’s able to breathe easy again. As Wohnoutka demonstrates, no one is immune to first-day nerves! Providing loads of appeal, his gouache illustrations are filled with bold lines and bright colors. His playful tale is a reminder that the beginning of school is a period of adjustment for parents and pupils alike.
COURAGE IN THE CLASSROOM
A small student-to-be takes a large leap into the unknown—the classroom, of course—in Birdie’s First Day of School by Sujean Rim. First-day fears keep Birdie awake all night. She’s heard that school is “all work and no play,” with a teacher who’s “half werewolf.” When the big day arrives, she consults her dog, Monster, on important questions (what to pack in her bag, which outfit to wear) and—with encouragement from her mother—joins the other kids. She soon discovers that class is actually awesome, with new friends, fun lessons and a mind-expanding instructor (who, beyond a beard, bears no resemblance to a werewolf). That night, Birdie can’t sleep, but this time it’s because she’s too excited about school! The latest entry in Rim’s irresistible Birdie series is a visual delight, with collage-like illustrations composed of delicate watercolor washes, colored-pencil details and crayon scribblings. Class with Birdie is a blast.