cover image Back to School, Backpack!

Back to School, Backpack!

Simon Rich, illus. by Tom Toro. Little, Brown, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-62834-1

The start of a new school year is just as nerve-wracking for backpacks as it is for kids, at least in the experience of the quivering anthropomorphic knapsack narrating this story by the creators of I’m Terrified of Bath Time. From the dark depths of the closet where it spends the summer relaxing, a teal backpack immediately engages readers: “The first day of school always makes me nervous.” From there, it lists the indignities and fears it faces in the hands of an equally anxious white-presenting student with a blond ponytail—from having books and binders shoved down its throat to noticing that “everyone else seems to belong.” Luckily, a chance entanglement results in the narrator overcoming its biggest fear of all: feeling “like I don’t fit in.” Toro’s creamy-textured mixed-media illustrations extend the text’s themes with engaging, empathetic details. The combination is sure to boost readers’ confidence as they navigate their own classroom return. Ages 4–8. (July)