I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL TODAY!

Jan Ormerod, Illustrator, Robie H. Harris, Author , illus. by Jan Ormerod. S&S/McElderry $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-83913-9

The duo behind Goodbye Mousie aptly handles the emotion of first-day-of-school jitters in this empathetic tale. After carefully packing his backpack the night before, a boy with wide, brown eyes (who narrates and remains nameless throughout) declares the next morning that he's not going to school because, "on the very first day of school, you don't know anything... all the kids' names, or which cubby is your cubby... or what kind of juice they have." The ultimate excuse concerns his stuffed monkey companion: "If I go to school, Hank won't have anyone to play with!" Ormerod's watercolor washes, outlined in black pencil, anchor the fast-moving dialogue with true-to-life details. (One scene shows Dad coaxing his son out from under the breakfast table; another depicts a late-for-work, yet smiling Mommy calmly holding out her son's jacket while suggesting Hank accompany the reluctant boy.) As the schoolday unfolds, the boy gets answers to all of his questions (he learns the kids' names, his teacher shows him his cubby and serves orange juice, etc.). The compositions keep the focus on the boy's blossoming confidence and do a splendid job of relating a subtle side-story of a budding friendship with another stuffed animal–clutching boy. The two children silently introduce their animals at circle time and play together in several successive spot illustrations of cheerful, bouncy pupils. This story insightfully relates a youngster's trepidation about the unknown, while its happy ending sends a comforting message to anxious schoolgoers. Ages 4-8. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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