Sea Monster's First DayEven big guys can have a rough time starting school, as Ernest the sea monster shows us. Starting school and learning how everything works is a tough job: there’s so much to learn and do, and something always seems to go wrong. “It felt like everybody was already part of a group.”
by Kate Messner
illustrated by Andy Rash
CA: Chronicle Books, 2011
ages 3 - 6
available from your local library and my favorite bookstore
But Ernest has a positive attitude and keeps trying to make friends. “Finally, at lunch, I spotted some fish that looked a little like me. I decided it was worth a try. We hit it off right away.” This has such a happy ending, just the way you'd hope - but in a very earnest way (yes, the pun is intended!).
Kids will love the bright, goofy illustrations of Ernest and the other fish, with their big goggly eyes and funny expressions. Messner achieves a balance between acknowledging that the first day of school isn’t easy, and sharing the message that a positive attitude goes a long way. She accomplishes this through gentle humor in this upbeat story about making friends.
Daniel Handler reviewed Sea Monster's First Day for the New York Times this past weekend, saying that Messner and Rash waste an opportunity by "giving us a cartoon we’ve all seen before." I actually think this works in favor of the story, reassuring little kids that school is actually something they've seen before. This story will work perfectly for preschoolers and kindergarteners heading to a new school for the first time. I'm sure it will bring some laughs and reassurances along the way.
A great resource for Back to School books is the list put together by John Schumacher (@MrSchuReads) and Alyson Beecher (@alybee930) on their wiki. It includes some of my favorite books, including Sea Monster's First Day. Definitely check it out.
The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Chronicle Books. The links above are to Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, my local bookstore that has just launched an online website (hooray!).
Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.