cover image FIRST DAY


Joan Rankin, . . S&S/McElderry, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84563-5

With a warm familial tone and gentle humor Rankin (Wow! It's Great Being a Duck) addresses the anxiety many children feel on the first day of school. Young Haybillybun protesteth plenty when his first day at Yappy Puppy Play School arrives. He's convinced he'll have a difficult time ("I've got scary eyes! Nobody will play with me!"; "I've got slip-slidey-fluffy feet.... I'll fall off the jungle gym"). But Mom and Dad provide reassuring solutions to all his concerns and Mom walks Haybillybun to his classroom. As Mom passes the morning at home without Haybillybun around, however, she suddenly feels a pang and rushes to the school to "rescue" her son. And to her pleasant surprise, Haybillybun doesn't need saving; he's having a blast, playing and painting with his new friends. Rankin refreshes a familiar theme by employing colorful names and phrases and by giving her characters realistic personalities and dialogue. Her delicately hued watercolors, predominantly green, blue and purple, contain the kind of entertaining and cozy detail—Mom's cookie-adorned apron and dog-bone hat, a quaint dog-populated village, Haybillybun's "rock'n'roll" sunglasses—that will draw in readers straightaway. Ages 4-7. (July)