FICTION

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices

illus. by Mika Song. 48p. Charlesbridge. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580897303.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 3—The angst suffered by many youngsters contemplating the first day of a new school year is charmingly and realistically captured in this collection of 24 poems that express the thoughts and concerns of six children entering kindergarten through grade five. Each of the book's four sections—"The Night Before," "In the Morning," "At School," and "After School"—includes a first-person narrative by one of the children. In the first section, Ethan hides his teddy bear's fuzzy jacket in his pants pocket to bring him comfort on his first day of kindergarten. Zach wonders if first grade rules will be different from last year's, and Katie contemplates the news that her second grade teacher is a man. Third grader Jackie worries about having to arrive "a whole hour before school starts/so Mama can catch the bus to work." Carlos (grade four) fears being friendless at his new school, and Mia falls asleep fretting about fifth grade homework and whether to fix her hair to cover her hearing aids. Song's delightful large cartoon illustrations—brushed sumi ink outlines and detail filled with watercolor—show various ethnicities at home and in the classroom and concerned expressions that become relaxed and happy as children quickly adapt to school routines. Kids in grades four and five share the same round faces and short stature as the younger children.
VERDICT Teachers will enjoy using this engaging collection as an ice breaker or as impetus for a first day writing project.

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