Will Hillenbrand, Author . Harcourt/Gulliver $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-202032-3

Hillenbrand (Fiddle-I-Fee) turns the familiar playground song into a story of a shy pig's coming to terms with the first day of porcine kindergarten at Mulberry School. "Here is where we hang our hat,/ hang our hat,/ hang our hat./ I'm leaving mine on. I really wish that/ I were home instead of at school," says the little narrator, unaware of a nearby soul mate—another shy pig who's opted not to doff his propeller beanie. Daunted by the bustle of the school day (which includes having a block tower destroyed and getting splashed at the water table), both reluctant pigs inadvertently meet up while seeking sanctuary within the leafy branches of the school's mulberry bush, and with this turn of events comes a new attitude: "I can't wait to come back to school!" The stage-like compositions of Hillenbrand's mixed-media pictures make the most of the book's horizontal format while immersing readers in the low-to-the-ground world of kindergarten (he also includes a wheelchair-bound classmate). Most of the spreads depict sweet-natured, non-species– specific kindergarten fun, but in one sly scene, the two pig pals don paper-bag pig masks to act out a familiar scene with a schoolmate dressed as "B.B.W." (Big Bad Wolf). This playful book will raise the spirits and expectations of nascent school-goers. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/07/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!