Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: IT IS (NOT) PERFECT

It’s a good day when Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant put out another book, especially when that book is one of the (NOT) books, starring two of my favorite fuzzy friends. Tomorrow is that day, my friends.

It Is (Not) Perfect, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant,
(May 2020, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542016629
Ages 3-7

Purple and Brown are enjoying a day at the beach, gleefully constructing a sand castle. After an initial round of consideration, each decides it’s not yet perfect, adding little finishing  touches. But it seems like all their friends around them (you’ll catch very familiar faces and legs) have an opinion, too. As Purple and Brown try to appease everyone, driving themselves to include every change, the sweet little sandcastle becomes and overwrought palace… and Mother Nature hasn’t yet contributed her opinion.

What makes something “perfect”, and at what point do we appreciate something (or someone) simply for what it is? These are the questions posed here, and Kang and Weyant do so in a way that takes a potentially overwhelming or upsetting subject and makes it fun for kids to digest and laugh at. Most of us are people pleasers at heart, and kids more than most are easily stressed out trying to make everyone around them happy at their own expense. It Is (Not) Perfect shows them the sillier side of what happens when you try to please everyone, while showing readers that there’s always something waiting around the corner, that doesn’t care about anyone’s idea of perfect. Be happy and embrace what you’ve got! If you think its perfect, it is. And so are you.

Psst…publisher Two Lions has a Teachers Pay Teachers page, with loads of downloadables available for free, including educator guides and activity kits for You Are (Not) Small.

 

Christopher Weyant’s artwork is familiar and adorable, with lots of familiar friends from past (Not) books, a bright beach setting, and enthusiastic dialogue balloons that make this so much fun to read with a partner (like my 7 year old). He brings such life to Anna Kang’s fun storytelling; a sense of play runs throughout all of the artwork.

Yet another must-add to my storytime collection – and yours! – and a great inspiration for sand castles everywhere. Don’t let quarantine woes get you down: make moon sand with your kids at home. It will be PERFECT.

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @chrisweyant05

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant 

Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant

“Colorful cartoon illustrations add a lightheartedness to what could be a stressful real-life situation for kids. Another life lesson neatly packaged in child centric humor.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This award-winning duo have created a lovely tribute to the old adage that perfect is the enemy of good. Recommended for purchase for all collections.” —School Library Journal

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Blog Tour: World So Wide

Have you ever connected with a child and just wanted to celebrate every moment, every experience, every second of them? That’s the story at the heart of this gorgeous rhyming ode to life, Alison McGhee’s World So Wide.

World So Wide, by Alison McGhee/Illustrated by Kate Alizadeh,
(March 2020, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 781542006330
Ages 2-6

A couple imagine their newborn’s first moments: first sights; first sounds; first smells; first touches. It’s an exploration of the senses, of nature, and the captivating, all-consuming love that parents and babies have for one another. Phrased with questions and answers: “What will be the first sights they see? / Sun and moon and sky… / the love in someone’s eye?”, the story moves in verse throughout the family’s life together; through toddlerhood, adulthood, and, to show the cyclical nature of life, parenthood again, with a new father, holding his baby as he was once held, overjoyed and completely in love.

 

Kate Alizadeh’s digital illustrations paint pastel landscapes of flowery fields and family rooms; parents gently holding a baby and staring lovingly at one another. Paired with Alison McGhee’s ode to parental adoration, World So Wide comes together as a beautiful exploration of parenthood through the senses, through nature, and the future. The family appears multicultural, with a brown-skinned mom and a white, fair-haired dad. I adored Alison McGhee’s Someday; she has a gift for speaking to what’s in my heart as a mom, and she does it again with World So Wide. She takes those small moments that we wish could last forever, and gives them a voice, so we know we’re not alone. World So Wide is a lovely storytime choice, and I’d consider this a good baby shower gift, too.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour Stop: Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson

Bernard isn’t like other birds, but he doesn’t let that stop him from trying to fly! It takes a sad orangutan to help Bernard realize his true purpose, though…

Bird Hugs, by Ged Adamson, (Feb. 2020, Two Lions),
$17.99, ISBN: 978-1542092715
Ages 3-7

Bird Hugs is such a sweet story! Bernard is a little purple bird with very big wings. They just can’t keep him in the air, no matter what he does. He sadly watches his friends soar into the skies as (adorably silly) attempts fall flat. When he’s at his most dejected, though, he sees a crying orangutan… and gives him a BIG HUG. Who doesn’t love a hug, right? Well, it turns out that this is Bernard’s purpose in life: those big wings let him wrap everyone up in a warm, loving hug, and boy, do the animals need it! Day after day, Bernard hugs his way through a line of animals who need a hug, a sympathetic ear, and a kind soul to be present. What a wonderful message.

Bernard is adorable, and kids are going to love spending time with him. He’s sympathetic and empathetic all at once; he’ll give readers a giggle as his attempts to fly bring him all to close to the ground, and readers will feel for the little guy as he struggles with seeing other friends do things he can’t do, and he feels left behind. The book changes perspectives, moving from horizontal to vertical spreads, adding interest to a readaloud. Ged Adamson’s pencil and watercolor artwork creates sweetly pastel animals and landscapes for readers to wander in, and the endpapers – representations of Bernard’s very, very long wings – are just fun.

Bird Hugs is a sweet story about sharing friendship, empathy, and the importance of just being available.

 

Ged Adamson is a children’s book author and illustrator. His picture books include A Fox Found a Box; Douglas, You Need Glasses!; Shark Dog!; and Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed). He has also worked as a cartoonist, storyboard artist, and composer for film and TV. He lives in London with his partner, Helen, and son, Rex. To learn more, visit his website: https://gedadamson.myportfolio.com/home-page 

Twitter: @ged_adamson 

Instagram: @gedadamson 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa’s sleigh is packed and ready to go. The reindeer are off, doing their own thing: dancing and prancing, dozing, boasting… but when Santa calls them to get ready to leave, no one is showing up! What the heck is going on? And then, Santa remembers: he almost forgot the most important step of all!

Santa’s Story, by Will Hillenbrand, (Sept. 2019, Two Lions), $17.00, ISBN: 9781542043380
Ages 3-7

This cuddly Christmas story is perfect for kids who understand the power of routine. Who wants to go to bed without a good night story? No one! Well, no reindeer wants to take off for a long night’s ride without a story to get them ready, either. When Santa puts out the call, the reindeer don’t respond until Santa says the phrase they’ve been waiting to hear: “STORY TIME!” It’s an adorable story that kids will see themselves in, and parents and caregivers sure will, too. This can be a lead-in to the famous Clement Moore poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”  and the start of a new Christmas ritual – the kids will love it if you tell them that you’re reading the same story that Santa reads to his reindeer before they head out to bring gifts to their homes! Get your hot chocolate ready, and put out extra cookies and milk for the kids to share, pre-Santa.

Will Hillenbrand’s artwork is soft and sweet, perfectly cuddly to match the story. The snow looks cottony soft, and the cartoony reindeer and other North Pole denizens are earth-toned against the brilliant white snow, and Santa’s bright red (and green book) is an attention-getter. Pair this with Will Hillenbrand’s Snowman’s Story for a sweet Christmas storytime, and make sure to visit Hillenbrand’s author website for free Snowman downloadables.

Praise for SANTA’S STORY:

“Hillenbrand’s digital illustrations have a pleasingly soft visual aesthetic…A merrily-ever-after read.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hillenbrand reveals the spirited goings on in snowy, buoyant digital pictures featuring expressive reindeer and a jolly Santa who would be right at home in an animated movie. A light and cheery holiday tribute to tradition and storytelling.” —Publishers Weekly

“Interesting vocabulary, a touch of suspense, and a satisfying conclusion make this simple story a good addition to holiday collections.” —School Library Journal

Will Hillenbrand has written and illustrated many beloved picture books, including Snowman’s Story, Down by the Barn, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles, and the Bear and Mole series. He has also illustrated dozens of books, including the Big Bear series by Maureen Wright. Will lives with his wife and son in Terrace Park, Ohio. You can find out more about him at www.willhillenbrand.com.

Connect with Will on Facebook

On Instagram: willhillenbrand

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Flash the Little Fire Engine has a big heart!

Flash the Little Fire Engine, by Pam Calvert/Illustrated by Jen Taylor, (Nov. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5420-4178-2

Ages 3-6

Flash is a little fire engine who wants to do big things, but every time the alarm clangs at the firehouse, Flash arrives on the scene to discover another truck is there, better able to handle the challenge. Dejected, Flash heads back to the firehouse, only to discover the a sudden snowstorm has blocked the bridge, and there’s a fire in the town square! It’s up to Flash to save the animals in the burning animal shelter!

Flash the Little Fire Engine is a sweet story about a spunky little fire engine, and encourages us kids who were always at the front of the line when we lined up in size order. Flash may be too little for some rescues, but he’s always ready to help – and that determination pays off when the stakes are high and the other trucks can’t get through. The book also gives kids an introduction to other first response vehicles, like an airport crash tender, the ever-popular turntable ladder truck, and an airplane firefighter and foam tender. The text moves between the story narrative and sound effects, which are bolded, larger, and in bright colors, to draw attention and encourage the kids to howl along with you during a storytime reading. The digital illustrations are bright, bold, and give the vehicles big, expressive faces that will instantly appeal to Blaze and the Monster Machines fans. The kids in my library (heck, every library I’ve been at) LOVE vehicle books, and have a special love for fire engines, so I’ll be adding this to the storytime rotation, along with firefighter hat coloring sheets, like this one from Education.com.

Pam Calvert is an award-winning children’s book author. Her books include the Princess Peepers series, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning; more recently, Brianna Bright, Ballerina Knight, illustrated by Liana Hee; and other titles. Formerly a science teacher as well as a writing instructor and coach, she speaks to thousands of children every year. When she’s not speaking or writing, you can find her having fun with her family in Texas. Learn more about her online at www.pamcalvert.com or on Twitter: @PammCalvert.

Jen Taylor is an illustrator and arts-and-crafts enthusiast born and raised in New Jersey. She attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she majored in illustration and animation. She is the illustrator of the Brave Little Camper series as well as the picture book Ninja Camp, written by Sue Fliess. She previously worked in animation on such shows as Sid the Science Kid and MAD. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their corgi, Rocket. Learn more about her online at www.jentaylor.net.

“Calvert deftly finds a new way to introduce kids to different kinds of firefighting vehicles…sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books.” —Kirkus Reviews

Posted in Media, picture books

A Crazy-Much Love video, read by the girls who inspired the story

Almost two weeks ago, I was thrilled to bring you a writeup about A Crazy-Much Love, a love story about international adoption, by Joy Jordan-Lake and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. If you thought the book was pure love and joy wrapped in pages and a cover, wait until you see this video, read by the girls who inspired this book. Here’s the backstory:

Fifteen years ago, nine separate families each flew to China to adopt a baby. A bond was formed among them that transcends culture and distance. Today, those nine girls—their parents and siblings—are extended family to one another. A Crazy-Much Love by author Joy Jordan Lake, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez, is a celebration of their love. Here, the girls read from their shared story.

I can’t wait to let these girls read this story at my next storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Pippa’s Night Parade!

Pippa’s a little girl with a BIG imagination, but sometimes, that wonderfully wild imagination runs a little TOO wild!

Pippa’s Night Parade, by Lisa Robinson/Illustrated by Lucy Fleming,
(Oct. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542093002
Ages 4-8

Pippa is a spunky little girl who armors up in masks, scarves, and boots, but they’re not match for the villains, monsters, and beasts that spring out of her books at night and menace her. Pirates threaten her, dragons roar at her, and bears growl at her as her bookshelf becomes alive. What’s a reader to do? Pippa has a plan: she invites the monsters to come to a “Scary Night Parade” in her room, where she puts her maker skills to work and creates costumes even a monster would love! The scary party turns into a spectacular fashion show, where the former baddies strut their stuff. Talk about modern problem-solving!

Pippa stars a young girl of color, a dedicated fan of books and reading with a love of dressing up. The cartoony art is rendered in bold, colorful purples, yellows, and pinks. The dramatic shadows of the villains on the rise, the enchanted books flying around her room, with the dragon emerging from a book in golden flame, are all beautifully, fantastically created, giving readers a feel for fantasy entering Pippa’s reality. I love the way Pippa faces her fears and uses her imagination to help her conquer her bedtime monsters. Absolute fun for Halloween, bedtime reading, or dress-up storytime.

Lisa Robinson was born in Kampala, Uganda, to Peace Corps volunteers who later became world-traveling diplomats. When she was a child, her family moved frequently, so books became her best friends. She now works as a psychiatrist and writer. She holds an MFA in creative writing for young people from Lesley University. She is also the author of Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!, illustrated by Eda Kaban, and has more books forthcoming. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and three cats. Learn more about the author at www.author-lisa-robinson.com, or on Twitter: @elisaitw.

Lucy Fleming, like Pippa, has a wonderfully wild imagination, which she uses to create illustrations for children’s books. She has illustrated more than twenty titles, including River Rose and the Magical Christmas by Kelly Clarkson and For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection. She is a graduate of the University of Lincoln in England. She lives and works in a small town in England with a cup of ginger tea in hand and her cat close by. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lucyflemingillustrations.com.

Instagram: @illustratelucy

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pippa’s Night Parade, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour Kickoff (and a giveaway!): THE ITTY BITTY WITCH

I’m so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Trisha Speed Shaskan and Xindi Yan’s adorable story about being small yet mighty, The Itty Bitty Witch! I reviewed this fun story about a little witch with a big spirit back in July, so today, I’ve got an interview with author Trisha Speed Shaskan. Enjoy!

The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskan/Illustrated by Xindi Yan,
(July 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542041232
Ages 4-7

“Caregivers and teachers will be pleased with the multiple extensions the story offers, all wrapped up in a Halloween theme. Proving size does not matter, this itty-bitty witch casts a bewitching spell.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A familiar portrayal of [a] determined, lone underdog who discovers her sense of worth.” —Publishers Weekly

 

And now, the Trisha Speed Shaskan interview. Thank you so much to Trisha and to Barbara at Blue Slip Media!

MomReadIt: As someone who was always first or second on the size order line at school, I love and appreciate Betty’s story! What inspired you to write THE ITTY-BITTY WITCH?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: Thank you! I’m so happy you enjoyed The Itty-Bitty Witch. When I was a child, Halloween was magical because the neighborhood kids took over the streets at night, in costumes. Because of my love for Halloween, the first book I chose at a RIF event was Tilly Witch by Don Freeman, a story about a witch who feels happy instead of wicked on Halloween! Drat! That story inspired me to write and read witch stories as a child and into adulthood.

As a child, I was also one of the smallest or shortest kids in my class. And I played many sports—too bad I couldn’t race atop a broom like Betty! I was often the one girl athlete on a team of boys. Kids called me “short” and “Tommy” since I was seen as a tomboy. I didn’t like being labeled because it set me apart from other kids. And although my height and ability to play on any team was often an asset, I didn’t always see it that way. In The Itty-Bitty Witch, Betty is similarly given a nickname she doesn’t like (“Itty-Bitty”) but learns that being small can be a strength.

MomReadIt: Betty starts out being bullied because she’s small, but her bullies change their tune when they see that Betty wins the Halloween Dash! As an educator, how did you teach younger kids about self-acceptance and resiliency?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: My husband/children’s book author and illustrator Stephen Shaskan and I teach kids how to create comics and graphic novels. Recently, we taught a class that had only two students in it, which allowed us to get to know them. Eleven-year-old Brian told everyone he wasn’t a good artist. He clearly felt insecure. But by the end of the class he said he created the best drawing he’d ever created. He built that confidence and in turn self- acceptance in a couple hours. How? First, Stephen and I built a relationship with the kids in the room by listening to them. We learned Brian’s favorite TV show (“Zig and Sharko”), and the names of the cows on his family’s farm. We joked around. Stephen and I modeled the drawing activity. The students made suggestions and Stephen drew a character out of simple shapes. Next, we set out tools for the students to use, such as geometric templates. The template helps kids who don’t feel they can draw the shapes consistently. I praised Brian for his focus and for using the template. I sat down next to him and drew. I’m not a trained artist so I had a hard time drawing the hand. I failed. Stephen gave me an example of a how-to-do it from a drawing book. Brian encouraged me. Brian had a difficult time drawing part of the snowman from a new angle. I encouraged Brian. By the end of the day, Brian invented a hexasnowman, drew it from different points of view, and told us he was going to draw it more at home. How do you get kids to accept and love themselves? First and foremost, build a positive relationship with them. Give them tools. Give them specific praise that focuses on the process, not result. Be honest. Take risks alongside them or share your mistakes or failures. Lift them up.

MomReadit: Will Betty return in another adventure?

Trisha Speed Shaskan: Betty’s return is yet to be determined, but I do have more stories about her brewing!

MomReadIt: How would you encourage younger kids to start their own storytelling?

Trisha Speed Shakan: I write from my own experiences and imagination. But I also write to learn about myself and the world. If kids want to write stories, I encourage them to explore the world through activities and books! Take a walk outside. Develop a hobby. Learn about a subject you enjoy. Learn about an animal you love. While exploring and learning, you’re sure to collect story ideas! Pay attention to the stories you love and why you love those stories, whether it’s a book, a TV show, or a movie. When you set out to write a story, think about those elements and how to incorporate them in your story.

Thank you so much!

When Trisha Speed Shaskan was a child, Halloween meant bobbing for apples, daring to touch brains (which may have been noodles), and—best of all—wearing costumes. She still loves dressing up for Halloween. Trisha is the author of more than forty children’s books, including Punk Skunks and the Q & Ray series, both illustrated by her husband, Stephen Shaskan. Trisha lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with Stephen; their cat, Eartha; and their dog, Beatrix. Learn more at www.trishaspeedshaskan.com.

Find her on Twitter and Facebook

 

Xindi Yan grew up in a small city called Wuhu in China, and like Betty, she was always the smallest in her class. Standing a little shy of five feet, she still can’t reach the high shelves in grocery stores and sometimes finds that shoes made for kids fit her best. But her size didn’t stop her from chasing her big dreams of being a published artist in New York City. Xindi is the illustrator of Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree by Sandy Shapiro Hurt and the Craftily Ever After series by Martha Maker. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and hopes to have a puppy one day. Learn more at www.xindiyanart.com

Twitter: @xindiyan

Instagram: @xindiyanart

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Itty-Bitty Witch, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Crazy Much Love, by Joy-Jordan Lake

Back in February, I was thrilled to take part in a cover reveal for A CRAZY MUCH LOVE by Joy Jordan-Lake and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. Now, I’m even more excited, because this gorgeous book is out in the world and I can finally tell you about it!

A Crazy-Much Love, by Joy Jordan-Lake/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez,
(Sept. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542043267

Ages 4-8

This is author Joy Jordan-Lake‘s first picture book, inspired by her own international adoption, and her words capture the longing, joy, and utterly all-consuming, crazy love of motherhood. In this story, a child’s parent share the moments throughout their child’s life, and try to put into words the overwhelming, “crazy-much love” they have for her: imagining her, as a baby dreaming about them as they tried to get their home ready and just right for her arrival; the big, crazy rush to fly to her, hold her in their arms, and bring her home; the incredible love she’s been surrounded with from the beginning, a “crazy-much love for you would grow and grow more and spill out the windows and bust down the doors”. Childhood milestones  – the first bath, first steps, first word, first tricycle ride, and first time on a school bus – take on sacred meaning, their every moment filled with love and gratitude for existing. As the family cuddle together and their daughter asks, “How long does it last, the crazy-much love?”, and laughs because she knows the response, we know, too: that crazy-much love never, ever ends.

Sonia Sánchez’s digital artwork beautifully brings Joy Jordan Lake’s words to life, creating a family story that translates warmth and love on every page. The artwork looks handcrafted, with warm colors and brushstroke-similar artwork that almost makes readers feel like they’re looking into a family diary. Add this one to your storytime collections and your picture book shelves.

Joy Jordan-Lake is the author of multiple books for adults, including A Tangled Mercy, a Goodreads Hot Reads Selection and Kindle bestseller, and Blue Hole Back Home, winner of the Christy Award in 2009 for Best First Novel. A Crazy-Much Love is her debut picture book. She holds a PhD in English and has taught literature and writing at several universities. She is a mother to two biological children and one child adopted from China, and her experiences inspired this book. She lives outside Nashville with her family, including two fluffy dogs. Learn more about the author at www.joyjordanlake.com.

Sonia Sánchez is an award-winning Spanish illustrator. Her debut picture book, Here I Am, written by Patti Kim, received two starred reviews and was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Painter. Her artwork has been selected for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Original Art Show twice, and her books have been named a CBC NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. She lives with her husband, her son, and a sleepyhead cat in a blue house near the Mediterranean Sea.

 

“The standout illustrations burst with energy and are as saturated with color as the subject of the story is showered with love. A perfect gift for an adoptive family—and every family that has a deep and abiding love for their young children.” —Booklist

“An honest and encouraging story about a transracial adoption.” —Kirkus Reviews

One lucky winner will receive a copy of A Crazy-Much Love, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only, please!). I’m trying a Google form this time, so please let me know in the comments if it’s not working for you! Contest closes 9/27. Good luck!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School stories: Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!

Hi all! I’m getting caught up on the avalanche of books in my home, so bear with me if I’m a little behind on my Back to School posting. NYC public school kids are back to school today – GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE! – and I’ve been getting my kiddos ready to start their school years off right. (So. Many. Supplies.) Anyway, with that, let’s talk starting Kindergarten with Lisa Robinson and Eda Kaban!

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten, by Lisa Robinson/Illustrated by Eda Kaban,
(Aug. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542092753
Ages 4-6

Yeeeargh! It’s the first day of Kindergarten, but Pirate Emma has decided that she’s not leaving her preschool Captain, Cap’n Chu, and her crew! Cap’n Chu brings her over to the Kindergarten classroom – a spaceship! – but Pirate Emma isn’t having it. She runs back to Cap’n Chu’s room and refuses to leave, even going so far as to start a mutiny, and threatening Cap’n Chu with walking the plank! Thankfully, the Cap’n is a good and understanding Cap’n, who’s likely been through this before. She consoles Emma and convinces her that, while it’s time to join her new crew, she can always visit the pirate waters of preschool. From there, Emma’s ready: she joins the Kindergarten class as Space Pirate Emma.

This is a story that gets it. The transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten can be tough for kids, and Emma embodies those feelings of fear and defiance. She bellows things like, “Pirates don’t go to Kindergarten!”; “Pirates don’t take naps!”, and “Pirates don’t follow rules!” as she pushes back against having to join her new class, and it takes the combination of the very patient Ms. Hayes, the Kindergarten teacher, and the very understanding Ms. Chu, to help Emma work through her worries and resistance, leading her to make the decision to join her new Kindergarten crew.

Having been one of those moms, reading Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten was a relief: authors and illustrators who get it! They’re speaking to my now-second grader, who used to wake up morning after morning with one ailment or other that would render him unable to go to Kindergarten (and he, too, had a VERY understanding teacher, thank goodness). They’re speaking to me, letting me know that this is okay. I’m not the first parent, nor will I be the last, who will have a pirate that defies Kindergarten, or first grade, or maybe things on a smaller level, like going to the bathroom in school, or eating school lunch. This is all part of growing up, and growing up can be scary and hard. Having books like this can make it easier on all of us: kids, parents, caregivers, and educators alike.

The digital illustrations are colorful and lend themselves to exciting classrooms, where teachers create atmospheres for their students: Cap’n Chu created a pirate setting for her Pre-K class; Ms. Hayes has a spaceship-themed classroom for her Kindergarteners. (Psst… these teachers exist, I know a bunch of them!) The illustrations are enticing, giving kids (and worried caregivers) a glimpse into how fun a classroom can be. There are also tons of craft project ideas here: pirate hats and paper swords, anyone? Space helmets and stars?

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten is aces for me. I’ll be reading this to my son’s former Kindergarten teacher’s class, to let those kids know that pirates certainly DO go to Kindergarten, and it’s pretty darned cool.