Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to School Fears

Garmann's Summer
by Stian Hole
first published in Norway by J.W. Cappelens Forlag, 2006
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher

This is not your typical happy-happy joy-joy, don't-be-afraid
everything-will-turn-out-fine kind of book. Garmann works on his fears the way your tongue goes to the sore spot where you bit the inside of your lip. He asks his ancient aunts, his father, and his mother about their fears. He delivers deep, deep lines like, "If you can't remember anything, you have nothing to be scared of."

You may not decide to share this book with children after you read it. But if you are sending kids of any age off to school, or if you will be on the receiving end, you need to read this book to remember how scary the beginning of the school year can be.

Another blog review: Fuse #8


Late for School
by Stephanie Calmenson
illustrations by Sachiko Yoshikawa
Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books), 2008

Here's one that's perfect for the youngest readers. Mr. Bungles wakes up late one day, and realizes that he might be late for school. "Oh, no! I'm the teacher/and it's my rule/to never, ever, ever be late for school!" After the first two pages, which get the reader acquainted with the rhyme scheme, every double page spread sets up a rhyme for the type of transportation Mr. Bungles will use, but the rhyming word is on the next spread. Perfect for making predictions, especially when you start looking closely at the picture clues. (There is also a clock on every spread, ticking closer and closer to 9:00.) For example: "Where is my shoe?/It can't be far./I found it! I'm dressed./Now I'll hop in my..."

No happy ending in this one, either. Mr. Bungles is late for school. You'll have to read to find out how he changes his...


I Know an Old Teacher
by Anne Bowen
pictures by Stephen Gammell
Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books), 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher

Here's a great addition to your "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" variant collection.

Miss Bindley takes the class pets home over the long weekend and promises her class she'll take good care of them. Unbeknownst to her, the students are peeking in her window and they see her eat a flea, a spider, a fish, rat, snake, and lizard. She has her limits, though. "I know an old teacher who swallowed a child. 'Swallow a child?' the old teacher smiled...'I would never do that!' "

Finally, a happy ending!


  1. Great! Nice little round up of back to school stuff.

  2. mr. bungles is living my deepest, darkest fear. i've had this dream before. it is not pleasant.

    does it ever go away? my suspicion is it won't... it will take a permanent place next to the dream where i find out at the end of the semester that i had another class i didn't know about and all the sudden have like 6 papers to write.

  3. ^^i suppose that if being late for school is my deepest, darkest fear, i'm doing pretty good.

  4. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!

  5. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Is this replacing ISH in your classroom?

  6. NONE of these books will replace my favorite picture book first-reads:

    Ish by Peter Reynolds
    I value approximation.

    The Wonderful Happens by Cynthia Rylant
    I celebrate each unique student.

    The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
    We honor diversity, and recognize the importance of names.

    The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
    Stamina and persistence are positive traits.

    The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups by David Wisniewski
    Humor is valued in my classroom.

    How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa
    Everyone is 100% smart, even if we are different mixtures of the multiple intelligences.

  7. These are useful ideas for parents having a child who is afraid of going back to school or even starting a school for the first time. The fear of school is common for some kids, parents will need to work on this so that their children will perform well in school and will love going school.


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