cover image Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

Keith Calabrese, illus. by Juana Medina. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0894-4

Lena is pumped to start kindergarten, but she may have to call the whole thing off. As she explains to Dad, her shoes, which are essential to her first day ensemble, are having serious second thoughts. While Dad waits patiently, Lena enlists her headband, who is “friends with everybody,” to listen to the shoes’ fears (“School is big and loud and different and they’d really rather not go”) and remind them of “other times they were all scared but decided to be brave, together,” such as getting vaccinated and an encounter with a big dog. Lena throws in some reverse psychology—“Looks like I’ll have to wear my slippers,” she tells her shoes, and it’s off to school for everyone. Medina (ABC Pasta) employs digital cartooning, a mix of fluid ink lines and flat, bright colors, to supply a steady flow of visual energy. Making his debut, talent-to-watch Calabrese brings flawless comic timing and a fresh twist to the back-to-school theme. Ages 4–8.[em] (July) [/em]