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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten! Written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Foster, Farrar. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"Oh, yes, I am ready for
kindergarten! I've been waiting
for this all summer.
I'm five.
It's time for me to go to the
big kid's school."
And I walk right into the

I know that you will be looking for new books to start a brand spanking new year at school. I always loved that about teaching...each year a whole class of kids you've not met, and the joy of starting all over again.

So, here's a wonderful book for the early years. It focuses on the fears that accompany that new start. In this case, a boy is pretty excited about the prospect of his first day in kindergarten. He awakens early and ready to take on the world. But first, he has to get his mother out from under the bed covers. She does not seem so keen!

The endpapers get readers ripe and ready for the action to come. Our hero begins with a quick splash of water to his face and follows that with the humdrum activity of preparing for his big day. Brush the teeth, change from pajamas to shorts, a button-up shirt, socks, laced shoes, a backpack and finally, a lunch box. His cheeks are rosy, his determination clear and his expression sure...or not quite. All done in a quick series of watercolor spots surrounded by white space. They herald what is to come within the pages of this wonderful new book.

While our young man is eager to get on the road to school, Mom has many apprehensions:

"Do they have snacks in kindergarten? What if you don't have time to finish your sandwich at lunch? You'll be so hungry."

No worries...he is sure that all will be well. Once they are out the door, there are other things to worry about...for Mom. It isn't until they are standing outside the classroom door that there is cause for any concern on his part; Mom steps up to the plate and gives gentle assurance. Meeting his teacher is all it takes for a confident entry and a perfect first day.

The watercolor illustrations allow those who share this timely tale to experience the ever-changing emotions felt by mother and son. When Mom is worried, she is painted in blue and of very small stature, allowing her son to lead while she follows. When the tables turn, she takes on a clear and undeniably parental role to help her son overcome any insecurity he might be feeling. She is ready and waiting to hear his take on the first day, and listens with delight as they make their way toward home.

Then, he notices the school bus! Can you feel a new story coming on??

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