Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

Great Back-to-School Books

School is right around the corner and here are some outstanding books to help celebrate or soften the blow (depending on the age and anticipation of the child).  All but the last two books are picture books and are good for ages four to eight.  The last two are fiction books best for ages eight and above.  However, both are excellent read-out-loud books for families with children ages six and older.

Super Saurus Saves Kindergarten, by Deborah Underwood, and brilliantly painted with acrylics by Ned Young, features a very hesitant Arthur not desiring to attend kindergarten.  His new teacher, Mr. Zachary (otherwise disguised as Zorgo), will try to quell his every move.  But Arthur’s alter-ego, Super Saurus, will rise to the occasion and conquer Zorgo’s every move.  Everything’s nicely resolved at the end making this story a giggly delight for shy dinosaurs in reserve.

 

Second Grade Holdout, by Audrey Vernick, and illustrated with a cartoon effect using  pen, ink and watercolor by Matthew Cordell, lightens the subject matter of the difficulties of change and moving to a new grade with humor and heart.  The protagonist is concerned heading to 2nd grade because his best friend, Tyler, won’t be in his same class like in 1st grade. Plus, he’s hearing some frightful (and funny) stories from Tyler’s sisters.  The resolution is delightful, just like the book, and should put transition fears to rest.

 

The Teacher’s Pet, by Anica Mrose Rossi, and illustrated with a retro-atmosphere using hues of subdued blues, yellows and reds by Zachariah Ohora, is centered on the teacher deciding to allow his students to keep one of their tadpoles.  However, this new pet grows and grows and unexpectedly turns into a very large surprise.  The story is hilarious and kids will laugh out loud as you read about how the students eventually open the teacher’s eyes to move this beloved pet out of the school.

Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the Cafeteria, by John Grandits, and illustrated using vivid acrylic, colored pencils and digital usage by Michael Allen Austin, gives explicit rules, by classmate Ginny, for Kyle to follow if he aspires on having success in the lunchroom.  But, he has been reading a fact based book on insects and throughout his experience in the cafeteria he begins to imagine other students, and even adults working in the lunchroom, as bugs.  This begins to cause him trouble with his peers until he sits down at his table. He quickly resolves the dilemma with a quick wit and adds rule number eight.

 

Back to School with Bigfoot, by Samantha Berger, and with brightly digitized illustrations by Dave Pressler, is the perfect book for children who worry about going back to school after summer break and entering a new surrounding.  Bigfoot is very concerned with all the trappings of the new school year, from buying new clothes, to taking the class pictures.  This delightful book can open discussions for your anxious child.

 

Barnaby Never Forgets, by Pierre Collet-Derby, pokes fun at the delightful bunny, Barnaby, who thinks he never forgets important items and events when that is exactly what he does.  The story begins with Barnaby trying to find his glasses before he’s late for school – again.  As he searches everywhere, you see that he has them on already. The digital illustrations have a retro feel and the storyline may be helpful to youngsters who seem a bit unorganized.

Fall is for School, by Robert Neubecker, showcases two opposing siblings who are either excited or unhappy that school is about to begin.  Neubecker’s text rhymes throughout and matches his wondrous colorful illustrations.  As the story draws to a close the little sister finally convinces her older brother that school is exciting and fun so that now he’s greatly anticipating all that school offers.

 

Unschooled, by Allan Woodrow, perfectly illustrates through the events that take place in this delightful and humorous fiction that students can work together and cooperate. The new school year has produced one of the worst fifth grades ever, according to the principal, but he has come up with a plan to motivate these students to become better. He has created a contest during Spirit Week to help them come together and cooperate. But he cleverly doesn’t tell the students what the winning prize will be.  The outcome is a big surprise to the entire student body – and the reader – making this a perfect read out loud for classes and families.

Confessions From the Principal’s Kid, by Robin Mellom, is a heartfelt story that rings true with so many older students in elementary school.  Allie has a difficult situation.  Her mom is the principal.  She discovered during the previous year that when she told her mom a problem other students got in trouble.  So students were wary of her and stayed away from her friendship so she wouldn’t “rat” on them. She decided she wanted to fit in with her peers his year and wouldn’t tell anything she found out.  But eventually she realizes that this doesn’t make her a better person.  In fact, it made her feel bad and guilty.   So she made the decision to just be the best that she can be and all would work out.  This is a wonderful story with an uplifting theme giving great examples of how to be a good person to all.

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