Rosemary Wells, . . Hyperion, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0833-5

The plainspoken bunny heroine of Emily's First 100 Days of School describes a kindergarten year (separated in "chapters" designated by month) in Wells's informative and reassuring picture book, illustrated with her characteristic panels and spreads of well-dressed animal characters. With the other intrepid youngsters on Cranberry Island, Maine, Emily is entrusted to Miss Cribbage, who, as in the previous book, proves an ideal teacher. Reinforcing educational concepts, the spreads will probably also echo the real adventures of kindergartner readers, while giving preschoolers an exciting preview: families attend Back to School Night; students record the weather, learn how to measure, and even pull together in a community effort to support a local business. Miss Cribbage's classroom might inspire real-world teachers: in November, the class names a schoolyard tree and writes a poem: "Doris O'Maple loves winter/ Her branches are covered with ice./ They snap and they tap on the windowpane./ Like hundreds of scampering mice." Sharp readers who have pored over Emily's First 100 Days will deduce that Kindergarten is a prequel; however, they may also be puzzled, given that the two titles feature the same cast in what seems like the same classroom, but the locale is identified differently. Visually, the title is less cohesive than Days ; rendered in a range of media, the compositions vary in detail and characters can look inconsistent. All in all, however, the richness of the concepts and the vibrancy of the presentation make this a winner. Wells magnificently conveys how kindergarten feels intellectually: as if a whole world of important learning suddenly opened up. Ages 3-6. (July)