Book review: Peanut Butter’s First Day of School, by Terry Border

Border, Terry. Peanut Butter’s First Day of School. Penguin Young Readers, 2018. $14.99. ISBN 9781524784850. 32 pages. Ages 6-8. P7 Q6

It is common to feel anxiety about the first day of school. Peanut Butter is wondering what he should do to get ready for the first day of school, so he asks his friends for advice. Each of his friends has a different idea, but none of the ideas work for Peanut Butter.  On the first day of school, Peanut Butter spends the day with his friends. At the end of the day, they walk home together. If this is the first book you have read about Peanut Butter, you may enjoy the story and realistic food illustrations. However, if you have read Peanut Butter and Cupcake, you will be disappointed. The illustrations are repeated straight from Peanut Butter and Cupcake and Milk Goes to School.  This book is a Level 2 progressing reader.

Verdict: If you have not read Peanut Butter and Cupcake and Milk Goes to School, I recommend this book. The themes of friendship, celebrating individuality and including others along with the food illustrations will appeal to children. However, if you have read Border’s other books, the illustrations repeat and this volume is not worth purchasing. I was expecting new illustrations that matched the story.

June 2018 review by Tami Harris.


Book review: Hello School!, by Priscilla Burris

Burris, Priscilla. Hello School! Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018. ISBN 9780399172021. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7Q8

This adorable book begins with the first day of school and progresses through the days of fall. The illustrations are soft and pastel and feature many diverse children who are learning how to listen, share, and how to  be a good friend. Each page has a title explaining what the children are learning. The “Counting is fun!” page shows six children with increasing numbers of acorns in front of them, holding a sign in one hand showing the number, and the other hand is holding up fingers displaying the number. A great visual to teach numbers! Pages include simple text, and dialogue bubbles of the children conversing.

Verdict: This book would be a perfect book for starting preschool or kindergarten as it shows children what to expect and how to behave at school. It is a very welcoming introduction to the classroom.

November 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Yes I Can! A Girl and her Wheelchair, by Kendra J. Barrett, Jacqueline B. Toner, Clair A.B. Freeland, illustrated by Violet Lemay

Barrett, Kendra J., Jacqueline B. Toner, and Claire A. B. Freeland. Yes I Can! A Girl and Her Wheelchair. Illustrated by Violet Lemay. Magination Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781433828690. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

We all want our children to build positive and empathetic relationships. Yes, I Can! Follows the story of Carolyn, who is a first-grader who just happens to be in a wheelchair. Children may wonder about children who are in a wheelchair or have disabilities. Carolyn shows that she is just like other children her age, she is helpful to her parents and teachers. She can do what others do with a little help. Friends at school go out of their way to make sure she is included. She can be a part of things, even if she cannot not do what her friends are doing.  Even when activities are frustrating or difficult, she responds with, Yes, I can! The words, “Yes, I Can!” are bold and in a different colored font, which help them stand out. The end of the book has a note to parents, caregivers, and teachers, with questions and answers about disabilities. The illustrations show Carolyn living her life, the same as others her age do. The illustrations add to the text.

Verdict: This book accurately and inspirationally shows how children who have disabilities can live full lives just like other children. I highly recommend this book.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma, by Keith Calabrese, illustrated by Juana Medina

Calabrese, Keith, and Juana Medina. Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma. Atheneum Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781534408944. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P6 Q7

Lena is very excited about the first day of school, but her shoes are nervous. Lena has her headband talk to her shoes and remind them of past situations when they were scared, but decided to be brave. A simple story of first day of school jitters. Some of the illustrations are colorful and others are mainly black and white. Her bedroom is in black and white, except for the colorful clothes she has set out to wear on the first day of school. It appears that the illustrator was trying to accentuate her clothes by making the rest of the page black and while. I think the illustrator was successful using this technique.

Verdict: Children can relate to feeling nervous about school or any new situation. I recommend this simple book on facing our fears and being successful. Focusing on the shoes instead of the child being nervous makes it more comfortable for a child to read.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: A World Below, by Wesley King

King, Wesley. A World Below. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 261 pgs.  $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-4814-7822-9. Gr. 6+. P8 Q8

Mr. Baker has decided that this year the final class outing will be to the Carlsbad Caverns. This is something that the 8th grade class do not want to do. All other 8th grade classes have gone somewhere to dine and have fun. The caves trip they all feel is not going to fun. It is the beauty of the caves that makes several change their minds and they seem to enjoying the trip when a sudden earthquakes seals them inside. The class is plunged into a hidden world several hundred feet below where the tour started. This is a word of hidden dangers and people. A place where they overcoming their differences and new friendships are formed.

Verdict: The reader is left wondering what will happen to those that were left behind. It is also a story of survival and the wonders of what could be hidden below Earth’s surface.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Llama Llama Loves to Read, by Anna Dewdney and Reed Duncan, illustrated by JT Morrow

Dewdney, Anna, and Reed Duncan. Llama Llama Loves to Read. Illustrated by JT Morrow. “An Anna Dewdney book.” Viking, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780670013975. Unpaged. Ages 2 and up. PP9Q10

This adorable over-sized picture book is sure to be a favorite of emerging readers! Each page features rhyming text that is perfectly crafted into a fun, meaningful narrative. The book follows young Llama to school and carefully explains letters, the alphabet, words, spelling and sentences. The illustrations bring each page to life with colorful pictures of a class of young animals with a zebra teacher learning to read. There are lots of opportunities in the book for young readers to sound out simple words and practice right along with Llama. My favorite line in the book states “Words have magic power indeed.” It is a celebration of literacy!

VERDICT: This book belongs in classrooms, libraries, and at home as it drives home the message that reading is fun!

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.


[Editor’s note: Though credited to Anna Dewdney, this book was published posthumously with co-author Reed Duncan.  Though the characters and illustrations are faithful to the original Llama Llama books, the plot and text could have benefited from the careful attention of the beloved author.  As a picture book introducing young readers to school and reading classes, this is still a worthwhile addition to kindergarten, elementary and public library collections.]

Book review: Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the Cafeteria, by John Grandits, illustrated by Michael Allen Austin

Grandits, John. Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the Cafeteria. illus. Michael Allen Austin. Clarion Books, 2017. 32 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-544-69951-9. Gr. 1+. P8 Q8

Kyle’s mother did not have time to fix his lunch before the bus arrives. Ginny, sits close to Kyle and tries to give him the dos and don’ts of school life. When she finds out about his lunch she gasps  and tells him seven rules about how to conduct yourself in the cafeteria. Kyle breaks every rule and when he sees Ginny later on the bus he tells her about rule number 8. Rule 8: never ever listen to Ginny’s rules. Instead, enjoy your lunch. Cafeteria food is very good. The illustrations are hilarious as Kyle breaks every one of Ginny’s rules for conduct in the cafeteria. Kyle survives and eats his lunch.

Verdict: I would read this book aloud to students who are going to eating in the cafeteria. It was so much fun to read.  I know younger students will enjoy it too.

July 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.