Back to School, Backpack!

Little, Brown. Jul. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316628341.
PreS-Gr 2–Backpack’s relaxing summer days of lounging in the closet with Hamper and Winter Coat are wrapping up, and now the zipper-mouthed green pack with big expressive eyes must leave behind his closet chums and return to bustling school hallways. Everyone knows the first day of school can be grueling for kids, but few realize the struggle of backpacks. Being shoved against walls, stuffed into dark lockers, and left on sticky cafeteria floors makes Backpack feel that it doesn’t belong anywhere. Aside from the robot pin on its side, will Backpack have to carry on through the chaos all year long alone? Matching the style of I’m Terrified of Bath Time, Rich and Toro rally again, giving a humorous voice to another underappreciated everyday object. Toro’s cartoon watercolor and digital illustrations outlined in black are playful, expressive, and tell a story beyond the text, revealing that the pale-skinned, blonde-haired girl lugging Backpack around school is actually just as nervous and uncomfortable. The anthropomorphic backpack visibly conveys a range of emotions young readers may also feel on the first day of school, including nervousness, dread, and confusion. Elementary-aged readers will empathize with Backpack’s first day of school anxiety, while chuckling at the backpack’s unintentionally humorous point-of-view.
VERDICT An amusing title to send young readers back to school with a giggle. Libraries will certainly want to give this book a place on their shelves.

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