Tuesday, September 07, 2010

TO SCHOOL, TO A NEW SCHOOL, BACK TO SCHOOL OR JUST ANOTHER DAY AT SCHOOL

We certainly can't prepare ourselves or the little ones enough, to let go and step out. Back to school or in the thick of it, we can always turn to books, picture books, for substantial help.

OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell gives the much needed reassurance to toddlers and preschoolers. Mother owl is away. The babies wonder and worry. Mama swoops in asking What's all the fuss ? You knew I'd come back. The images of the petrified owlets later found flapping in joy is a sheer delight - thanks to Patrick Benson and his wonderful touches with crosshatching to rope in texture and depth. Read the more detailed review here: http://www.saffrontree.org/2006/12/soother.html. Published by Candlewick.


THE KISSING HAND is similar in its intent to reassure. But incorporates a little ritual to get through the first few days of school. Or even moments of sadness on an ordinary day. Now, whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think Mommy loves you says Mrs. Raccoon after embedding a kiss on Chester Raccoon's hand. Audrey Penn's story oozes warmth, especially when Chester makes sure mom has a kissing hand too while he is away. Ruth.E.Harper and Nancy M. Leak have successfully evoked the same fuzzy feeling of warmth with their illustrations in muted tones set mostly in night time. Just the right book to calm the anxieties while saying adieu to the very young during camp, school, day care or sleepover. Published by Child & Family Press


They probably don't need books with gentle promises. They love school! They can't wait to go to school! But that's only because they think school is always fun. Not anymore. Not always. Sometimes things could go wrong, very wrong. Stuff like when people with big hair sit in front of you or when the tattoo you got as a prize comes off in the bath water. We get the picture but we unfortunately can't do much for their childish predicaments. This is where IT'S A BAD DAY comes in handy. Every little school going kid can relate to it and that's the simple beauty of it. Of course its a bad day when the biggest bubble pops without anyone seeing it! A catalog of simple and honest mishaps from May Ellen Friday, that ends with reassurance - But hey, I'm okay. And tomorrow is another day. The typeface of the text is as if handwritten by the little reader. And the exaggerated illustrations of multi ethnic kids in these "situations" will make any child guffaw with a stamp of approval! Published by Rising Moon.


She or He has singled out a friend in class and even seriously labeled her or him "best friend". The two do everything together and create memories for that slice of life on or off campus. There is not a conversation at home without bringing in the counterpart's name. Simply put, this book is about best friends. The layer of interest is that Monifa is African American, and her friend is Mei Jing, whose grandmother had immigrated from China. Their individual cultures dictate their experiences. Narrated in the first person by Monifa, the account is casual, true and very school-centric. Sprinkled with instances of cultural exchange during play dates, at school, and at home, Anna McQuinn's MY FRIEND MEI JING is a great pick to celebrate multicultural friendships, a wholesome experience during the growing up years. Illustrations are by Ben Frey and photographs inside are by Irving Cheung. Published by Annick Press.


There is that naughty side now. Something up their sleeves all the time. No place better than classroom to showcase the antics. Giggles galore. Everything seems funny, rather hilarious. And just when your child begins to appreciate humor of the tongue-in-cheek sort, its good to grab MISS NELSON IS MISSING. It can well be used as a quick refresher as the lazy summer comes to an end and when school is around the corner. May even lighten things up when he comes home with trouble from school. The children of Room 207 make it very difficult for Miss.Nelson. She disappears. They now have Miss. Viola Swamp who is intolerant to their noise and nuisance. She is portrayed mean and dressed like a witch. The children, now appreciative of Miss.Nelson, yearn for her to come back. She does reappear. But where is Miss Voila Swamp now? Did I mention they even hire a detective? Read it to solve the mystery! With simple text, amusing visuals and quirky humor, it is amazing how it eventually manages to be didactic as well. Miss Nelson is missing is authored by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall. A classic and a joy to read for slightly older elementary school kids, check out the audio versions of the book and the sequel too. Published by Sandpiper.

Most definitely a journey - from fear and anxiety through reassurance and warmth, to when they get comfortable (a little too comfortable in fact), books of all sorts find their way and become part of the experience. With good books, let the journey continue...

Pictures courtesy Amazon.com.

9 comments:

Sheela said...

What an awesome post, Meera! So timely... and loved the way you walked through various stages of school-going and emotional development in children. We are in that stage where bad-day phase dominates but the best-friend phase is hopefully just around the corner :)

Meera Sriram said...

Hahaha...the bad-phase can be very amusing sometimes. Thanks Sheels!

ChoxBox said...

Nice Meera!

What about a book for mommies who suffer from terrible pangs of separation anxiety when their precious offspring walks off to school?!

Vibha said...

Wonderful review Meera. Your post brought some old memories of uncertain moods and days.

Meera Sriram said...

Chox, I'd say go for "The Kissing Hand" (the kids might be too old for it but might help you:) Thanks Chox and Vibha.

Praba said...

Reassuring, indeed M! Some very appropriate ones here. The picking nose picture, hilarious! :))

The Kissing Hand was K's favorite when she started kindergarten. Can't believe my baby is in third grade and the little baby will be in KG next year!! Time to bring these home I guess. But, as I was saying to someone, the little ones are always so ready, up and about to step out of their comfort zone with that I-can-handle-this resilient spirit - thanks to all the reassurances from the older one and mimicking anything/everything,tippytoeing around the older kid!! They're such pros when it comes anything and going to school, in particular. This year, with S, didnt do the routine of back-to-school books, and knew it would be just fine. As Chox was saying, can someone read aloud to me please? :)
hmmm...can't help the long comments! :)

ranjani.sathish said...

Meera, you have picked a great mix of books and it was a great and refreshing review !

Meera Sriram said...

Yes P, I feel for the front cover too:) Thanks Ranjani!

Meera Sriram said...

sorry typo in my prev. comment. feel = fell. thanks.

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