cover image Take a Kiss to School

Take a Kiss to School

Angela McAllister, , illus. by Sue Hellard. . Bloomsbury, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-702-8

In the same vein as Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand , British pair McAllister (Just Like Sisters ) and Hellard (Princesses Are Not Quitters! ) add another comforting tale to the many dealing with a youngster's reluctance to go to school. Despite a fun first day, a bespectacled, blue-jacketed mole named Digby is not eager to return. " 'Time to get up for school.' 'No,' said Digby. 'I went there yesterday.' " The subsequent spread offers a cozy bird's-eye view of Digby and many woodland creatures scuttling off to school through an airy forest. Gently helping Digby overcome his fears, his mother blows a dozen kisses into his jacket pocket, which becomes a reassuring reservoir from which he can draw during his second day. When he takes out one of his mother's imaginary kisses, things previously overwhelming to him work out just fine. In her appealing pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations with calming autumnal hues, Hellard humorously pays attention to the smallest details (e.g., a rabbit's lunch includes dandelion greens, while Digby gets worms; the name above a young bat's coat hook hangs upside down). The artist aptly captures the new students' expressions of trepidation, awe and satisfaction. While his mother's kisses ease Digby's transition, a new friend truly boosts him over the anxiety hump. The closing bedtime scene will leave even the most timid students feeling braver. Ages 4-8. (July)