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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Planet Kindergarten, written by Sun Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2014. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"Back in the capsule we run
some experiments, write in
our logs, and then capture
images of our families.

I wish they were here.

At lunch, I find out
that I love space food!
My lunch doesn't float away,
but our trash will ... "

Oh, my! Kids who love all things space are going to relish in this inspired take on the many joys of kindergarten. Our young narrator plans for his first day of school as if it is a mission launch. Prior to liftoff, we are privy to all of the preparation needed for such an important day. In front matter, we note that the countdown has begun. A calendar, stopwatch, alphabet flash cards, mission details, doctor's visit, shopping trip, a final check and it's time to boost the rockets and head for Planet Kindergarten.

"What if I am not ready? What if we crash into a comet, or get
sucked into a black hole, or even worse ... my lunch floats away?" "
You are well prepared," says Dad.

They arrive at Planet Kindergarten, a place filled with 'aliens from other galaxies' and a commander with a daily plan. There is much to explore. There is a lot to learn, and adaptations must be made.

"Gravity works differently here. We have to try hard to
stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.”

The time passes quickly, with a few bumps in the road. Escape is considered, but rejected. At the end of the first day, there is a real sense of accomplishment and a plan in place for a return to the new planet - tomorrow.

As a former kindergarten teacher, I laughed out loud at the scenarios described. I would love to be sharing it with a group of 'aliens' when school begins next week.

Shane Prigmore's comic digital artwork matches the tone perfectly. Bright, detailed and inventive, they encourage close observation and provide action. Take a close look at the 'aliens' he meets when he arrives on the planet and you are sure to recognize children from past classes. He does a masterful job of connecting his otherworld images to what takes place in every school classroom.

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