On the Night Before Kindergarten

S. & S./Paula Wiseman. Jun. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665924894.
PreS-K–On the night before kindergarten, Milo, a gray and white kitten, is worried. What if his nightmares of arriving at school wearing nothing but red rubber boots, forgetting how to count past five, or being trapped on a runaway school bus come true? Mama and Daddy reassure Milo that at school he’ll make new friends and expand his vocabulary, but perhaps the feline parents should have saved a bit of confidence for themselves. Milo’s school anxiety is quickly overshadowed by Mama and Daddy’s growing worries, illustrating that grown-ups sending children off to school can experience their own fears. Once at school, Milo is at ease, comforting his anxious classmates, sharing snacks with new friends, and demonstrating how to count up to six using food in the lunchroom. The story wraps up quickly, leaving Mama and Papa concerned about the potential for any school bus malfunctions, while Milo and a new friend safely ride the bus home with a hankering for Mama’s homemade pizza. While the ending may feel incomplete for grown-ups, young readers will likely overlook the cat parents left worriedly waiting for the bus to arrive and be eager to know if the kittens are rewarded with their cheesy after-school snack. Wells’s signature illustrations colored with watercolor in pale hues and outlined in whiskerlike, thin black ink depict a wholesome world of homemade meals, Sunday crosswords, and police officers waiting to save the day.
VERDICT A new school story with a classic vibe to add to Wells’s time-honored and prolific cast of whiskered characters.

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