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Back-to-School Picture Book Review – And Then Comes School

 

AND THEN COMES SCHOOL

Written by Tom Brenner

Illustrated by Jen Hill

(Candlewick; $17.99; Ages 4-8)

 

 

And Then Comes School cover kids entering school

 

 

From the Publisher:

“Cooler mornings, cicadas buzzing, apples ripening . . . Can shopping for school supplies be far behind? . . . Whether the reader is a child who is eager to return to school or a younger one trying to imagine what school is like, this upbeat and lyrical ode holds sure appeal for returning students and first-timers alike.”

 

Review:

With this fourth installment of the “And Then Comes” series from Candlewick (this one illustrated by Jen Hill), Tom Brenner highlights all the seasonal changes that occur when the school season begins.

 

And_Then_Comes_School_int1_making_blueberry_jam And Then Comes School int1 making blueberry jam.
AND THEN COMES SCHOOL. Text Copyright © 2023 Tom Brenner. Illustrations Copyright © 2023 Jen Hill. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

Brenner’s lyrical text and “when . . . then” structure are a welcome, and unexpected, addition to the “back to school” book cannon, while Hill’s exuberant art celebrates all the delicious feelings end-of-summer-first-of-fall changes bring to families around the country.

 

 

And Then Comes School int2 deciding first-day outfit
AND THEN COMES SCHOOL. Text Copyright © 2023 Tom Brenner. Illustrations Copyright © 2023 Jen Hill. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

I must agree with the publisher that And Then Comes School is sure to connect equally with kiddos anticipating their return to school and those who are experiencing it for the first time. And while I don’t want to give anything away, I’m sure parents and teachers will find a spread or two in the book that resonates just as heartily with them as well.

 

  • Recommended & Reviewed by Roxanne Troup

 

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Early Chapter Book Review – Franklin Endicott and the Third Key

 

 

Franklin Endicott and the Third Key

Written by Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

(Candlewick; $6.99, Ages 6 – 9)

 

 

 

 

 

Now available in paperback, Franklin Endicott and the Third Key is the latest installment in Kate DiCamillo’s popular Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. In this early chapter book, which is divided into eight chapters and a coda, the story focuses on Frank.

 

Franklin Endicott Third Key int.1
FRANKLIN ENDICOTT AND THE THIRD KEY. Text copyright © 2021 by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Chris Van Dusen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

 

Frank worries about everything, a trait that many kids (and adults, including this reviewer) will be able to relate to. It is one of these worries, which Frank has recorded in his book of worries, that leads him to his neighbors’ home to do some research using the Lincoln sisters’ . . . encyclopedias! No internet here! How refreshing to read about a child doing research the old-fashioned way and how respectful to see that Frank refers to his neighbor as Miss Lincoln, instead of by her first name. A priceless detail. Eventually, Frank accompanies Miss Lincoln to Buddy Lamp’s Used Goods to get a copy of a key made; this is where the “mystery” begins as Frank discovers a third key after returning home. Charged with the daunting task of returning to Buddy Lamp’s shop alone to give back the third key, Frank must be fearless enough to handle the puzzle that has landed on his not-so-brave shoulders.

Franklin Endicott Third Key int.2
FRANKLIN ENDICOTT AND THE THIRD KEY. Text copyright © 2021 by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Chris Van Dusen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

Chris Van Dusens black-and-white illustrations rendered in gouache jump off the page with the detailed facial expressions of the different characters which no reader will be able to resist viewing in contemplation.

 

Franklin Endicott Third Key int.3
FRANKLIN ENDICOTT AND THE THIRD KEY. Text copyright © 2021 by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Chris Van Dusen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

With Mercy Watson the pig, a star of her own series, appearing in this title as well, children will be delighted to see her join the cast of characters with a significant role. And as for that book of worries to which the reader was first introduced at the beginning of the story, it gets replaced in a manner of sorts by a different one (courtesy of Buddy Lamp), resulting in an unexpected and heartwarming ending that spans the generations between young Frank and his elderly neighbor.

  • Reviewed by Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili

 

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Picture Book Review – The Struggle Bus

 

THE STRUGGLE BUS

 Written & illustrated by Julie Koon

(Kind World Publishing; $18.99; Ages 4-8)

 

The Struggle Bus cover

 

 

From the publisher: Sometimes things are really tough. It’s just too hard. You’ve had enough. Grumble, rumble, bump and roar, the struggle bus is at your door. [The Struggle Bus] is a must-have picture book for any reader struggling with new experiences and managing emotions … Incorporating her experience as an elementary school counselor, Koon uses the accessible theme of vehicles to make this social-emotional concept perfect for the preschool and early elementary crowd. It’s also a great tool for caregivers to start conversations with children about acknowledging difficult feelings and facing fears.

 

The Struggle Bus int1
Interior art from The Struggle Bus written and illustrated by Julie Koon, Kind World Publishing ©2022.

 

From the inside of a grumbly-rumbly bus, readers travel through the process of helpless overwhelm to joyous triumph in this rhyming, growth-mindset picture book from debut author-illustrator, Julie Koon.

 

The Struggle Bus int2
Interior spread from The Struggle Bus written and illustrated by Julie Koon, Kind World Publishing ©2022.

 

Koon’s muted color palette soothes as she tackles the unsure (and at times overwhelming) feelings a child encounters when facing new challenges and learning we all “have what it takes to do hard things.” A repeated refrain invites the youngest listeners into the storytelling while ample back matter offers teachers and caregivers more information to use during classroom or at-home discussions. A delightful debut for both author and publisher, The Struggle Bus is a wonderful addition to the school SEL library.

  • Reviewed by Roxanne Troup

 

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