cover image First Day Critter Jitters

First Day Critter Jitters

Jory John, illus. by Liz Climo. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2855-9

The creators of Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? present another spry animal tale, commingling comedy and counsel while showcasing a passel of creatures braving the first day of school. Wryly and endearingly depicted in text and simplified art, each critter has a solid reason to be trepidatious: a sloth frets that it won’t get to school on time (“I probably should have left yesterday”); a snake futilely spent the whole night trying to strap on its backpack (“Guess what: It didn’t work, dude”); a joey misses its mom’s comforting pouch; and a hibernating bear resists leaving its bed (“Can’t I just dream about school, instead?”). Delivered in hand-lettered speech balloons, the animals’ pithy reactions reflect each species’ proclivities while deftly zeroing in on common childhood anxieties. John inserts an unforeseen foible into the mix (the armadillo teacher is equally nervous) before bringing the story to a reassuring and rewarding close. Ages 4–8. [em](July) [/em]