cover image Eliza’s Kindergarten Surprise

Eliza’s Kindergarten Surprise

Alice B. McGinty, , illus. by Nancy Speir. . Cavendish, $14.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5351-2

McGinty (Ten Little Lambs ) offers a twist on a well-worn solution to separation anxiety. The imaginary parental-kiss-in-a-child’s-pocket is meant to soothe and comfort on the first day of school, but to Eliza, “her pocket felt empty, too empty inside,” after her mother slips a pretend kiss inside it. The new kindergartener then goes through the day collecting various items in the pocket of her jumper (which has a symbolic pink heart appliqué on the outside) that remind her of Mommy: “she found a pebble, smooth and bright like Mommy’s skin.” With the pocket full, but her heart still feeling empty, Eliza finally uses her assorted treasures to craft a miniature clothespin doll resembling her mother. While few five-year-olds could independently create such a clever stand-in, the message here is one of resourcefulness and perseverance. Speir’s illustrations are rendered in cheery, uplifting colors, with a vibrant yellow backing many of the spreads. A spare, cartoon quality evokes an easygoing, childlike feel. The reassuring penultimate scene of Eliza’s mother withdrawing a photo of her daughter from her own suit pocket ably demonstrates to apprehensive students-to-be that their parents, too, have homesick feelings and similar ways of coping. Ages 5-8. (July)