This Is a School

John Schu, illus. by Veronica Miller Jamison. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0458-2

Making his picture book debut, librarian and book advocate Schu invites readers into a school community in which all voices are heard, each person learns, and everyone—and everything, including the plants in the school garden—grows. Starting with the school’s most basic unit (“This is a kid”), spreads pull back to reveal a brick building where children and adults of various abilities, ethnicities, and skin tones come and go, learning, talking, and working. Narration that spotlights “we” and mixed-media spreads by Miller Jamison (A Computer Called Katherine) focus on the communal rather than the individual. Learning means that things can be uncomfortable: “Sometimes we don’t have all the answers. Other days we just feel stuck.” In the spreads that follow, a child who’s “stuck” on a math lesson gets help from teachers and from a fellow student, too. Jamison’s palette uses a full spectrum of gently faded colors in friendly, sun-bleached spreads and vignettes. This introduction to school communities shows children what happens inside a classroom via a vision of school at its best—one that leaves readers with a sense of belonging and inclusion. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Molly O’Neill, Root Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Kilkelly, LK Literary. (Mar.)