by Adam Rex
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
I had very high hopes for this, mostly based on the title (cute concept – first day of school from a school’s point of view). It was cute, but didn’t blow me away. I might have liked it better if it had been a school that had been around longer and knew what to expect on the first day, a bit more didactic. Although, upon reflection, having the school be brand new to the concept of school made it more relatable to a young reader going off to Kindergarten. One of the most relatable parts was when the school accidentally has a fire drill (like accidentally wetting your pants) – this was done in a very cute way. Overall pretty good! Some of the illustrations really personified the school, which was delightful, and they were nice and simple with a good text layout. I’m always glad to have more good first-day-of-school books!
by Lynne Rae Perkins
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
This picture book isn’t so much a story as it is an amusing way of explaining different school subjects through a dog’s antics (they learn about fractions through how much of the bed Lucky takes up at night, they learn about science through picking burrs and ticks off Lucky, etc). It’s very charming and the parts told from Lucky’s (the dog) perspective are very dog-like and funny. Grownups will appreciate some of the jokes more than kids but they’ll all like it. This would be best as a one-on-one readaloud with a slightly older child who has been to school, maybe a 2nd-grader. The humor reminds me a little bit of the Otter books by Sam Garton (whose new Otter book just came out, incidentally: Otter Goes to School – I can’t wait to read it!).
by Steve Sheinkin
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
My “adults who read kids’ books” book club loved this one, as we had loved Bomb a few years ago. I tried reading Bomb and found I couldn’t get into it until I had it as an audio book – something about nonfiction audio is a lot like a really long NPR story and just works for me, since I have a hard time with nonfiction. Sheinkin’s writing is very narrative, also, which helps a lot. I really love the way Sheinkin researches the people in his books so thoroughly that he can tell us what they were thinking and their personalities become very real to us. I did get lost in one part when he diverged talking about Watergate and had to have the other bookclubbers explain the connection to Ellsberg to me (the same secret mission team who bungled getting info on him was also in charge of Watergate).