Jane Breskin Zalben, . . Clarion, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-07250-7
The title refers to the cry of Daniel the elephant, facing his first day at preschool. He sobs and hides behind his mother. But she knows precisely what to do: rather than be a cheerleader for the experience, she calmly and patiently lets Daniel work through his feelings, reassures him that she will always come back and they share their special goodbye. Mollified and fortified, Daniel joins the group. He gleefully spouts water through his trunk at the water table, and "When he looked up, his mother was gone." In both her words and meticulous watercolor illustrations, Zalben painstakingly lays out the arc of the day. Like Daniel's mother, she does not beat the drum for preschool, yet clearly communicates that it's filled with nice new friends and seemingly endless options for fun. She also honestly conveys how Daniel begins to fall apart when he isn't the first to be picked up at day's end. The book concludes with some common-sense preschool adjustment tips from Zalben's editor. Children on the verge of experiencing this milestone should find plenty of reassurance in the steady rhythm of the prose and the tableaux-styled pictures. Ages 2-4.
Reviewed on: 06/18/2001