“First Day at Zoo School ” by Sarah Dillard
c.2014, Sleeping Bear Press $14.99 / $15.99 Canada 40 pages
This year, you’ll be just like the big kids.
Yep, this year, you’re going to school. You’ll have a brand-new backpack filled with paper and crayons. You’ll have a desk where you’ll sit and raise your hand when you want to talk. You might even get to ride the bus.
Best of all, you’ll make new friends at school, maybe even a new best friend, but be careful what you ask for. In the new book “First Day at Zoo School ” by Sarah Dillard, Alfred’s new BFF is B-A-D.
Mrs. Wattles had the seats lined up and her blackboard was clean. It was the first day of Zoo School, and she was eager to welcome her new students.
Amanda Panda was ready for school. She was excited because there were so many possibilities for this year. But Alfred Alligator wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to school. He just didn’t see the reason.
Amanda didn’t see something else when she got to Zoo School on that first day: she didn’t see a best friend. Everybody else had one, so she clearly needed one, too.
Then she spotted Alfred standing all by himself.
Here was the best friend that Amanda always wanted! They could sit together, right up in front of the class. They could eat lunch together every single day and maybe even share what was in their lunch bags. They’d be a team for every game. They’d walk home together at the end of every day. It would be awesome fun!
But Alfred wasn’t having any of that. He hated sitting up front in class. He tried to hide from Amanda at lunchtime, but it didn’t work. She even made him play a game that she wanted to play, even though he didn’t like it.
This best friend idea was the WORST. Alfred didn’t need all that, and he didn’t need Amanda telling him what to do. He was NOT her best friend, and he told her so — and then he felt bad. He never meant to hurt Amanda’s feelings. How could he make things better?
That first day of school is always scary — for you and for your child. But you can smooth the way with a cute little book like “First Day at Zoo School.”
Every class, it seems, has at least one overeager student and author Sarah Dillard captured this one perfectly. Your child will clearly see that Amanda Panda has good intentions but Alfred Alligator isn’t so sure about them, which may help children learn that they’ll meet all kinds of people in school. The humor in this situation also takes some of the scare out of First-Day Jitters, and the hilarious (even to adults) illustrations will make you both giggle.
Kindergarteners-to-be and newly-minted first-graders will enjoy this tale; it may become a favorite, even later in the semester. For them, or for any child who’s changing to a new school and is nervous about it, “First Day at Zoo School ” will be a big hit.