cover image Ms. Bitsy Bat's Kindergarten

Ms. Bitsy Bat's Kindergarten

Pamela Duncan Edwards, , illus. by Henry Cole. . Hyperion, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0669-0

The collaborators behind Some Smug Slug join forces to deliver this light look at how several animals' anxieties get stirred up when a new teacher begins on the second day of kindergarten. Mr. Fox has to stay home to care for his newborn kits, so competent Ms. Bitsy Bat takes over. She greets and quickly discerns the concerns of her wide-eyed, backpack-wearing pupils. Included in the cast of classroom characters is food-loving Groundhog, worried about his snacks ("Mr. Fox gave us chocolate-chip cookies... I bet this new teacher will give us yucky carrot sticks") and brainy Possum ("I bet this new teacher won't even know how smart I am"). The wise and patient Ms. Bat smoothes out the hurdles, recognizing the needs of each of her charges. While the humor of the typecast pupils' reactions may be lost on youngest readers, there is plenty to enjoy in the cheery, sympathetically rendered illustrations, from the animals' animated expressions to the slapstick frenzy when a mischievous bee bursts onto the scene. A somewhat staged ending wraps up the reassuring story. Parents and students alike can only hope for a teacher as perceptive and flexible as Ms. Bitsy Bat. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)