cover image Pa Lia's First Day: A Jackson Friends Book

Pa Lia's First Day: A Jackson Friends Book

Michelle Edwards. Harcourt Children's Books, $14 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201974-7

This first book in the Jackson Friends chapter book series introduces Pa Lia Vang on her first day of second grade as a new girl at Jackson Magnet School. In plain language, Edwards (Chicken Man) describes the universal experience of the start of classes: ""Jackson Magnet smelled just like the first day of school. Pa Lia could smell new shoes, new pencils, and clean floors."" Any student who has suffered from school jitters will identify with Pa Lia's nervous dawdling while her brother walks her to school and recognize the feeling of a mouth ""stuffed with cotton"" and a stomach ""filled with a thousand fluttering butterflies."" She soon meets an amiable classmate, Calliope, who guides her to their room, and Calliope's jealous best friend, Howie (""Howardina Geraldina Paulina Maxina Gardenia Smith""), who initially refuses to speak to her but whom Pa Lia wins over by day's end. The requisite standbys are all here (Matthew ""Stinky"" Stern farts in class and calls the bespectacled Pa Lia ""four-eyes""), but black-and-white illustrations that mix reality with Pa Lia's wishful and fearful thoughts add some spunk. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)