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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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And Then Comes Christmas by Tom Brenner

AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS

Written by Tom Brenner

Illustrated by Jana Christy

(Candlewick, $15.99, Ages 4-8)

        

 

And Then Comes Christmas cover kids catching snowflakes

 

When your children seem especially eager for Christmas to come, then it’s time to reach for Brenner and Christy’s gentle, sequential countdown story AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS. In a lovely lyrical style, Brenner follows a When/Then narrative that evokes all the special sights, sounds, and smells of the season. “When the days barely start and they’re over again, and red berries blaze against green shrubs, and bare branches rake across the sky … Then hang boughs of fir or spruce or pine, dotted with cones and bits of holly, welcoming winter.”

In a snowy setting that looks vaguely like rural New England, two siblings engage in holiday traditions at school, at home, and in the community. Brenner introduces wonderful imagery (“Wrap yourself in layers and tumble out of doors to romp in snow as smooth as bedcovers”) and accessible yet descriptive vocabulary (blaze, cling, dwindle) to set a joyous anticipatory scene. Visiting Santa, selecting a tree, baking goodies, and making gifts are just a few of the holiday highlights.

Christy’s illustrations balance cool, snowy outdoor landscapes with warm, cozy interiors. The blotted, misty edges add to an overall dreamy glow with lots of child-like appeal. The sister and brother are a cheery pair of role models, cooperative, considerate, and connected. Parents will certainly hope young listeners feel inspired to recreate the satisfying scenes with as much seasonal spirit as these two do! Following the family’s lively little black dog throughout the book will be a fun attention-keeper for little ones.

AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS is a well-paced picture book that highlights many of the special down-to-earth holiday moments that children savor. It is a lovely choice to add to your family’s Christmas reading traditions!

  • Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where Obtained:  I reviewed a promotional copy of AND THEN COMES CHRISTMAS and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

 

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