Giant-Sized Butterflies on My First Day of School

Putnam. May 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525516439.
PreS-Gr 2–As the sun’s rays reach into her buttery yellow room, the worried eyes of a young girl with short, dark brown hair and light tan skin peer over the blankets of her bed. Today is the first day of school, but she doesn’t feel like rising or shining. Her pale-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad attempt to calm her nerves, but nothing will settle the giant-sized butterflies fluttering in her stomach. On the drive to school, the girl learns that the butterflies, now trailing behind their car, also danced in her parents’ stomachs on the day she was born. Her mom reassures her that everyone, including grown-ups, wishes there was a magic spell to remedy the anxious feelings that arise before new experiences. Mom’s sage advice is to release the giant-sized butterflies: “don’t hold them in, just let them fly. ‘Cause they were born to be your guide.” Lovingly and delicately, her mom embraces the opportunity for imparting wisdom at this milestone moment in her daughter’s life. Roberts’s rhythmic, first-person narrative beautifully harmonizes with Escobar’s fluid digital gouache illustrations, using the metaphor of the butterfly to infuse a touch of whimsy into what could have been an otherwise bleak first day of school. This tender story will uplift young readers experiencing back-to-school anxiety, as well as the anticipation universal to new experiences of all kinds.
VERDICT A sensitive story sure to charm young and grown readers long past the first day of school.

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