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Sunday, September 3, 2017

I Quit Grade One! Written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by Tom Goldsmith. Scholastic, 2017. $7.99 ages 5 and up

"I said that we should do art three or four times a week. Ms. Carter only did art once a week, but I'm sure she would want us to have it more often. The new teacher should have boxes of glitter, different sizes of googly eyes and paint - not just boring colours either. We need colours like Ocean Blue, Raspberry Red and Jungle Green."

Stella loves Ms. Carter, and she is not the only one. When she learns that Ms. Carter is going to finish the school year early to welcome a new baby, Stella's worrying begins. No substitute teacher can replace her. No substitute teacher will know the way Ms. Carter did things. What will happen to the first graders without her?

Stella lets her parents know how she is feeling. They seem unconcerned, assuming Stella will like her new teacher as much as she likes Ms. Carter.

"How will the new teacher know that I need
help tying my shoelaces?

Or that I don't sit next to Liam because,
when no one's looking, he tries to pinch me? 

Or that I only like to read books from the
blue bin because they have more pictures?"

Totally familiar concerns for little ones, and legitimate in any brand new situation. I like that Stella decides to take her worries to the top, wanting to see the principal. He is not available. A letter might work! It takes effort and expresses her ideas for training the new teacher. She receives a reassuring reply from her principal, who issues an invitation. Often, the anticipation for change is much worse than the change itself!

The art is traditional brush drawing with watercolor washes, and is a perfect complement to the tone and emotions felt by a young girl with legitimate worries. Keep it in mind when reassurances are needed.

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