cover image FIRST DAY


Dandi Daley Mackall, Tiphanie Beeke, , illus. by Tiphanie Beeke. . Harcourt/Silver Whistle, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-216577-2

Despite her spiffy new Mary Janes and a backpack filled with fresh-from-the-store school supplies, the young narrator's excitement about the opening of school evaporates as reality sets in. "Don't go, Dad!/ Can't Mom stay?/ Help me plan my getaway—/ dig to China with a spoon,/ or take a rocket to the moon?/ I'd be outta here by noon,/ missing my first day." But as misgivings turn to merriment, Mackall's (Picture Me with My Friend Jesus) heroine begins compiling a rhyming catalogue of schoolroom pleasures: "Did I mention? (Pay attention!)/ recess is a great invention?/ Jumping, singing, sliding, swinging—/ whee-ee! It's our first day!" Though at times Mackall's text incorporates vocabulary or phrases that seem to break with the mindset of a first-time schoolgoer (the text wisely does not specify whether this is preschool or kindergarten), the emotions explored here are authentic. Beeke's (Book! Book! Book!) childlike watercolor-and-acrylic artwork brims with brightly colored cheer. The compositions take on a diminutive, doll-like scale, yet teem with real-life details: cups filled with brushes at the art table, kids trading lunches, artwork hanging from clotheslines, a plethora of toys. Each scene exudes a happy, manageable busyness. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)