Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

illus. by Juana Medina. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534408944.
OrangeReviewStarPreS-K—This clever story confronts kindergarten jitters in a unique way. Lena has her clothes ready for her first day, but her shoes are nervous. She finds her dad, and together they decide that her headband should convince the shoes. The headband reminds the shoes about other moments of bravery, and Lena's threat to wear her slippers tips the balance. They hesitate at the playground, "…but not for long." The brief, humorous text includes clever dialogue between Lena and her supportive father throughout. By casting the shoes as the nervous ones, Calabrese allows Lena to embrace her excitement, yet confront her concerns about the new experience. Her father encourages her to solve her own problem, empowering Lena while acknowledging her fears. Medina's digitally rendered, childlike illustrations fit the story perfectly. The cover's close-up image of Lena's shoes crossed over each other do, indeed, look nervous. Several of the spreads have the backgrounds drawn in black lines on white, with the only color being Lena, her dad, and the clothing itself, drawing the eyes to the central conflict.
VERDICT This innovative first day of school story will be a welcome addition to libraries everywhere.

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