Back to School Picture Books!

August 12, 2013

Back To School Picture Books!

Dear Picture Book Friends,

Happy August!  I am always shocked at how quickly the summer months fly by!  Here we are already, with most children heading back to school this week. 

Generally I feature brand new released picture books on my blog, but this month, I decided to mix it up a bit and suggest some books that I recommend for going back to school. 

Stay tuned for September, though… I plan on having many brand spanking NEW picture books to delight you and your little ones!

Love and peace,




How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?

Written by Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Mark Teague  (2007)

Available in Hardcover

Jane Yolen’s “Dinosaurs” books are among some of my favorite for reading out loud.  They are simply delightful and kids (and parents) love them!  This one is particularly cute in dealing with social behavior in the classroom.  I love these illustrations… the looks on the Dino faces make me laugh.

 School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 2
A new cast of brightly colored dinosaurs appears in this charming back-to-school story. The text’s easy rhyme and rhythm will be familiar to those who have read other books in this series, and Teague’s charismatic and naughty dinosaurs will continue to delight readers with their antics and exuberance. The illustration accompanying “DOES A DINOSAUR YELL?” is sure to elicit smiles as an excited Herrerasaurus leaps out of his chair proudly holding up a newly lost tooth. His teacher looks annoyed, but his classmates all turn toward him with their own gap-toothed grins. The 10 dinosaurs that appear are identified on the endpapers where each is hard at work or play. Stygimoloch using one arm to prop up his raised hand as he blurts out is also likely to draw a smile from veteran teachers. A fun read-aloud for the first day of school.-Neala Arnold, St. Francis Elementary School, MN



If You Take a Mouse to School

Written by Laura Numeroff; Illustrated by Felicia Bond  (2002)

Available in Hardcover

Laura Numeroff’s Mouse is one of my favorite picture book characters!  I read these to my own children years ago, and they never tired of hearing them.  This school edition is entertaining and another perfect one for reading aloud the week before school begins.

Publishers Weekly:

In a rollicking romp, Numeroff and Bond send the energetic, exuberant star of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (and his boy sidekick) into the classroom. After pulling on his overalls, the diminutive character makes his first request (“He’ll ask you for your lunchbox”) and then demands a snack, notebook and pencils before climbing into the boy’s backpack. Once at school, the mercurial mouse happily bounds from one activity to the next: he spells “a word or two” on the blackboard (Bond shows these as an impressive list headed by “onomatopoeia”), conducts a science experiment (purple matter erupts from his beaker), builds “a little mouse house” out of blocks (the edifice looks quite elaborate) and fashions furniture for it with clay. Realizing he needs something on his new bookshelf, the ambitious critter collects paper and pencils and creates his own book, which he then wants to take home, in “your” lunch box. As animated as the whiskered student it depicts, Bond’s art lives up to expectation, featuring her customary crisp colors and kid-pleasing details. Its school setting, tried-and-true tone and popular protagonist mark this title as a winner. Ages 3-7. (July) FYI: Numeroff will donate a portion of her royalties to First Book, a national nonprofit organization that promotes children’s literacy. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.



The Kissing Hand

Written by Audrey Penn; Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leek  (2006)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

This is a book that I would highly recommend to read to children who are somewhat anxious about going to school for the very first time.  Chester Raccoon is worried about missing his Momma while he goes off to school for the first time.  Mrs. Raccoon comes up with the perfect idea of placing her kiss in Chester’s hand so that he can take it with him and feel comforted any time he feels he misses Momma.  The words and pictures are perfect for parents searching for a book to help their children through this common anxiety.

Publishers Weekly:

In her foreword to Penn’s sugary tale about Chester, a young raccoon who would rather stay at home than go to school, Jean Kennedy Smith notes that the story is “for any child who confronts a difficult situation, and for the child within each of us who sometimes needs reassurance.” Its obvious message is delivered by Mrs. Raccoon, who tells her son that “I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home.” She then kisses his palm, and Chester feels the kiss “rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart.” Whenever he gets lonely, she advises, he is to press his hand to his cheek and “that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts.” As it may for youngsters in comparable situations, this “secret” works for Chester, who in turn kisses his mother’s palm so that she, too, will be reassured. Sprinkled with hearts and flowers, Harper and Leak’s paintings of the raccoons and their woodland habitat are pleasant if sentimental. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)



First Day Jitters

Written by Julie Danneberg; Illustrated by Judith Dufour Love  (2000)

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, and eReader Editions

Sarah Jane is worried about her first day at a new school.  She imagines all the things that could go wrong and it is easy to understand her feelings.  You will get a laugh at the surprise ending to this funny story!

School Library Journal:

K-Gr 3-Sarah is hiding under her covers as Mr. Hartwell asks, “You don’t want to miss the first day at your new school do you?” From under the blanket she replies, “I’m not going.” When he reminds her how much she liked her other school and asks her to think of all the new friends she’ll meet, she imagines a classroom where a paper airplane is flying, a boy is pulling his neighbor’s pigtail, and another is blowing a gigantic bubble. Mr. Hartwell finally gets Sarah to stumble out of bed, eat a bit of toast, and get into the car where she slumps down into her seat. At school, the principal cheerfully welcomes her and takes her to the classroom where she is introduced as “Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell,” the new teacher. There is a bit of foreshadowing that Sarah is an adult, but as she is always partially hidden, the ending will come as a surprise to most readers. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of action and maintain the lighthearted tone. A little subplot in the paintings shows the family cat and dog having their own contest of wills while their owner is trying to get his wife up and out. The joke provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations.-Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|



Chamelia and the New Kid in Class

Written and Illustrated by Ethan Long  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

Chamelia the Chameleon loves to stand out in a crowd!  In this second installation of her story, a new girl comes to school taking attention away from Chamelia.  This is a great story to talk about friendship and what it means to be friend to others.

Kirkus Reviews:

The unique Chamelia is back, but this time her antics and loud outfits aren’t enough to make her the center of attention, a position that has been stolen by the new kid in school, Cooper. The chameleon diva is singing and dancing through her rendition of her summer vacation for her enraptured classmates when Mrs. Knight introduces the interloper. Not only is this the end of her show, it is the end of Chamelia as the standout in class. His portraits have the other kids clamoring to be drawn in art, his team wins at soccer, and his after-school games enthrall everyone–except Chamelia, who’s not used to coming in second place in anything. Finally, Chamelia decides that his run needs to end: She sabotages his show-and-tell presentation. But when her plan works too well, “[s]uddenly, being the best felt the worst,” and she changes her attitude and actions to “show the class what it really meant to be a star.” As in her eponymous first outing (2011), Long makes Chamelia, and now Cooper as well, pop off the pages with collaged, fabric-patterned clothing, in contrast to the other chameleons’ solid, pastel outfits. His characters are expressive to the nth degree, their eyes (and eyelids) and mouths showing emotion, while their body language leaves no doubt as to their feelings–Chamelia’s upturned snout speaks volumes. Giving up the starring role isn’t easy, but readers may appreciate Chamelia’s example. (Picture book. 4-7)



Hooway for Wodney Wat

Written by Helen Lester; Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger  (2002)

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, and eReader Editions

This is a great book to read to children about teasing other children.  Poor Rodney Rat cannot pronounce his R’s.  The other rodents tease him because of his speech impediment but shy Rodney surprises himself when he finds his voice and stands up for his rodent classmates to a bully.  This book lends itself very well in teaching young children about empathy and bullying.

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 3-An underdog who can’t say his “r”s suffers unmerciful teasing until he saves his classmates from Camilla Capybara, who announces and then proves that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than anyone else in the class. However, when Camilla is not quite observant enough to detect Rodney’s speech impediment, a game of Simon Says becomes her downfall. As leader, the young rat squeaks “Wodney says go west,” and instead of resting, Camilla stomps off to the west never to return, making Rodney an instant hero. Munsinger’s watercolor with pen-and-ink illustrations positively bristle with humor and each rat, mouse, hamster, and capybara is fully realized as both rodent and child. Children will empathize with Rodney as he hides his head in his jacket and eats lunch all alone. Bullies may not want to recognize themselves in Camilla but the battle cry “bigger…meaner…smarter” is hard to deny. Hooway is wight…er, right. Wodney Wat is wonderful.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.


About picturebooklook

Hello picture book enthusiasts! I am the mother of 3 twenty-something children and became a grandmother for the first time in early 2012. I have had an affection for picture books for almost as long as I can remember. I have acquired a treasured collection from when my children were young. I have never lost my fondness for them! I have worked in the Children's department of my local Barnes & Noble for the last 10 years. Each month I hope to feature a new picture book review, along with a classic picture book. The fact is, these books are true works of art! The stories are simple, sweet lines, that often stay with us into our adult lives. This blog is dedicated to Danielle Catherine and all of my future grandchildren, and also to all of you who love the beauty of picture books as much as I do!
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