cover image Mr. Ouchy's First Day

Mr. Ouchy's First Day

B. G. Hennessy, , illus. by Paul Meisel. . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24248-9

Hennessy's (The Boy Who Cried Wolf ) charming story reassures children that they are not the only ones worried about starting school. Mr. Ouchy, a new teacher, expresses concerns that will seem familiar to young readers ("Will I remember everyone's name? Will I be able to find the bathroom?"). Broken into short chapter-like segments, the quick-moving narrative begins with the fellow in the barbershop, getting a haircut on the eve of the first day. Later, he has trouble falling asleep and counts sheep that "start to look like children." Here, Meisel's (Zara's Hats ) ink-and-watercolor gouache artwork shows several sheep, many with heads of smiling children, floating above Mr. Ouchy's snoozing head. Highlights from the first day reveal the teacher's aptitude and zest for his job. Not one to get flustered by kids' questions, (e.g., "Your name rhymes with grouchy! Grouchy-Ouchy! Are you a grouchy teacher?"), the unflappable hero answers them truthfully and directly. Readers will be relieved to know that their teachers may be as anxious as they are—and that mothers never stop asking about their children's day at school. Ages 5-up. (July)