cover image When an Elephant Comes to School

When an Elephant Comes to School

Jan Ormerod, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-73967-2

Ormerod has demonstrated her psychological astuteness with titles such as I Am Not Going to School Today! , and this quality shines through once again in this tale, aimed at allaying readers' first-day jitters. Posing as a manual to help children welcome an elephant student into their classroom, the book allows Ormerod to bolster and flatter youngsters' own sense of confidence. "When an elephant comes to school... he may be a bit shy at first," reads the text, as a boy and teacher greet the bashful pachyderm. The boy points out a hook in the cubby where the elephant can hang its lunchbox, and also the classroom's small toilet (this prompts the first of the book's many helpful hints, which appear in a box reminiscent of a Post-it note: "Show him the bathroom right away"). As the day proceeds, Ormerod depicts the elephant growing more exuberant and emotional than his young classmates, all of whom exude a soothing calm. But while the elephant covers himself with paint during arts and crafts time and gets a boo-boo ("When he falls, make a big fuss over him"), he is embraced by his peers and eventually settles into the rhythm of the classroom. The underlying message is that readers will as well. Reassuring in its simplicity and sensitivity—and funny to boot—this is a must-read for any family with a newly minted student. Ages 4-8. (July)