I’m looking for a book about… (starting) school

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 23

Welcome to “I’m looking for a book about….”, the topic-themed monthly carnival of children’s literature.

Every month I’ll be encouraging anyone who likes to review books for children (of any age) to leave links to their reviews of books that match the given month’s theme. The idea is that over time, this carnival will become a resource for parents, teachers, carers, librarians looking for books by subject.

Old reviews, new reviews, and reviews for any age are welcome. You may also submit multiple reviews, as long as they are all relevant to this month’s theme.

This month’s theme is…

**(Starting) School**

Image: UGArdener

Below you’ll find links to reviews of books for all ages of kids with a (starting) school theme. If, however, you are looking for school themed activities to go with the books below you should check out this month’s brilliant round up hosted by Maggy in her latest Red Ted Art Get Crafty post. Thank you Maggy for working together with me on this again!

To kick things off, I can’t resist sharing one of our very favourite books about starting (a new year at) school: Once Upon An Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughton, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, in which a teacher takes a very imaginative route to getting to know his new pupils better!



Jackie at My Little Bookcase has a round up of books both for children that are starting their first year of school and others for children that are returning to school after a holiday, several of which are by Australian authors and illustrators.



SpeakWell, ReadWell, a new-to-me blog about “speech therapy and kid-lit blog exploring language, literacy, and literature” shares A Dress for Me! by Sue Fleiss, illustrated by Mike Laughead. If your school doesn’t have a school uniform this sounds like a fun book to share!


ReadItDaddy introduces us to Splat the Cat, and whilst “the world doesn’t exactly need another cute fuzzy cat character” this sounds like a fun book to remind us that school isn’t such a bad place after all.


Lucky Wish Mouse: Starting School by Clara Vulliamy is Child Led Chaos’s contribution to this month’s themed carnival. “This book is full of all the lovely details that make Clara’s books a joy for small children – lists of things (“…ten tiny pencil cases…”); counting; attention to tiny details; and a calm and reassuring plot.


For slightly older children (8+) Ali at Fantastic Reads has a review of Beswitched by Kate Saunders. Not only is this a very funny book, “Beswitched has all the best elements: the emphasis on character development, the opportunities for girls to be heroic, a rescue and resolution coming through conflict“.


Mother-Daughter review team Holly and Sam share Little Rabbit Goes to School by Harry Horse over at their blog, Childtasticbooks. “There is a real gentleness to the illustrations that make this a comforting read, along with some mischievous humour


It’s always fun to compare reviews of the same book and you can do just that with another book by Clara Vulliamy, Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School. In her review Library Mice says, “I Heart School oozes happiness and sisterly love and has buckets of energy” whilst 4 year old MiniBookWorms adds “This book makes me feel happy and I am keeping it under my pillow with the other things I really like“.




Library Mice contributes another review to this month’s round up with her take on Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh
. This book “takes the familiar and fairly common children’s book theme of being different and trying to fit in and takes it to a new level thanks to the unusual storyline and the very distinctive artistic style of the illustrator.


I’m so glad Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell is included in this month’s carnival (thanks again to Library Mice) – the whole Ottoline series is tremendous and very high up my list of recommendations for kids (especially girls) who are reading fairly confidently on their own.


Instantly Interruptible has three books about starting school for us: Eric Litwin’s and James Dean’s Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes (hugely popular with my two girls), Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum (which sounds wonderful – 1st on my list to order) and School by Caldecott medal winner Emily Arnold McCully.


For another take on Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum, head on over to There’s a book’s review. This book really does sound great not only for kids but their parents too as the first day of school approaches.

Looking for a natural way to enable a conversation with your young child who is perhaps afraid of starting school? Mammasaurus at MiniBookWorms thinks Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! written and illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark is just perfect for exactly that.


Whilst Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! was published less than two weeks ago, the book reviewed by Myra at Gathering books was published 35 years ago! Miss Nelson is Missing! By Harry Allard and James Marshall is a great picture book for teachers starting school; indeed Myra has used it in the Classroom Management course she teaches.


Is 35 years a record? No! Over at Did you ever stop to think & forget to start again? NobodyJones writes about her specialist topic – the Chalet School books – and in particular The School at the Chalet, which was written in 1925. A new pupil arrives at school and the reader is invited to discover if the new girl will, or won’t, conform to the status quo.


Anastasia Suen highlights Dear America: With the Might of Angels by Andrea Davis Pinkney on her blog, Booktalking. Following the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education on desegregation awnie Rae Johnson’s parents decide that their daughter will attend a previously all-white school. What will this be like for her? How will her first day at school turn out?



Sprout’s Bookshelf has two posts to contribute this month. The first is all about Rain School by James Rumford whilst the second include a trio of books Mary has been using to get her son ready for kindergarten.. In it we learn that “the storyline was inspired by Rumford’s encounter of the ruins of a primary school in one village, a school made from mud that was destroyed during the rainy season. The experience fixed itself in Rumford’s mind, and years later he used it as inspiration for a bold and evocative picture book.”



Mary’s second post includes My Preschool by Anne Rockwell, Little School by Beth Norling and Sometimes You Get What You Want by Meredith Gary, illustrated by Lisa Brown, all books she’s been using to get her own son ready for Kindergarten this year.



Over at Operatingrn’s Blog there are reviews of several middle-grade and Young Adult books that deal with going to school including Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. School books are not just for 3/4/5 year olds!

And do come back tomorrow when you’ll be able to get your hands on the next installment of the story-inspiration-series that author/illustrator Clara Vulliamy and I are creating together – two more mini books for you and the kids in your life to print off and get creative with.

I’m looking forward to reading all your SCHOOL book reviews! Add away with the linky below or by leaving a comment 🙂



23 Responses

  1. Steve Dennis

    ‘One of my wife’s favourites is First Day Jitters’ by Julie Danneberg.

    veryone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending.

  2. Thanks Zoe,
    I’ve just linked up a list of Back To School mini book reviews.

    There are some lovely Australian books on the list.
    Jackie Small (@littlebookcase) recently posted..Book Review: For All Creatures by Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool

  3. Without a doubt, one of the most fun ‘starting school’ books is Splat the Cat 🙂
    ReadItDaddy recently posted..The Bookstart Pre-School Treasure Bag arrives!

  4. Hi Zoe,
    Hope I did that correctly! I posted a link to Little Rabbit Goes to School: http://childtasticbooks.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/review-little-rabbit-goes-to-school/

    I’d say it’s suitable for children starting school (around ages 4 or 5).
    Sam recently posted..Is digitalisation paving the way for more illustration?

    • Yes Sam, that all worked just fine! Thanks for contributing to this month’s themed carnival.

  5. Thanks Jackie – your list is great – and definitely good to have some Aus books included.

    ReadItDaddy… as I said I’m on the way to the library later on…

  6. Oooh I didn’t realise that there were quite that many fab back to school books out there! Fabulous, Zoe!

    Can’t wait to see Clara’s story time!!

    Maggy
    maggy, red ted art recently posted..20 Back To School Crafts & Ideas

    • 🙂 Maggy! Need to get cracking on it now I’ve added the latest contributions to the carnival to the main post body…

  7. Fabulous to have a list like this – my daughter starts school ina few weeks and is painfully shy and very worried so I’ll certainly be looking at some of these.
    Annie recently posted..Review: Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! written and illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

  8. Oh Zoe, I missed visiting your site!! What a timely theme you have here as I have just officially announced to my class this morning that “summertime is officially over” – and I announced this to a group of my student preservice teachers at that. My own ten year old would be starting 5th grade tomorrow. These resources and links look fabulous and would go over a few of them. I am sharing something that I have reviewed previously for another one of our bimonthly themes but which I thought is perfect given your ‘school’ theme: the classic Miss Nelson is Missing by Henry Allard and James Marshall. I would often read this book aloud to my student-teachers whenever we discuss classroom management techniques. Never fail to make them laugh and smile.
    Myra from GatheringBooks recently posted..March AWB Reviews

  9. We love SPLAT THE CAT! We,ve read it a hundred times! The other book that really helped my kids on there first days of school is: http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Kids-Go-Preschool-Another/dp/1561451290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344884846&sr=8-1&keywords=INGRID+GODON We have one in portuguese.
    🙂
    gisele f barcellos recently posted..Filmes sobre PAPAIS

  10. How about Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow? I’ve been reading it to my youngest son recently as he’s going to the school nursery in September. In it Harry takes his dinosaurs with him on the first day and is kind to a boy who is very shy- Raaah! We love it!

  11. What a great resource! Thank you Zoe! My Turkeybird starts school for the first time next week and I’m so anxious about it. He’s very excited of course and I’m sure he’ll do great, but you can never be too prepared. These will be great to look for at the library! Thanks!
    Danielle recently posted..Countdown to Ivy and Bean Blog-A-Bration! Book One

  12. […] It will have reviews of many Children’s books on this topic. It will be hosted this month at Playbythebook I have several middle-grade and Young Adult books that deal with going to school. These are some of […]

  13. For starting school, I love Llama Llama Misses Mama. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten is also good. Another favorite is, If You Take a Mouse to School. I recently interviewed the author, Laura Numeroff. You can hear the audio on my blog, Literacy Sprouts.
    Kelli recently posted..Interview with Laura Numeroff

  14. […] 14th, 2012 · No Comments TweetThis is a special edition… When my friend Zoe at Playing By the Book calls for books on a particular topic… then we respond!!! I thought we might battle to find books […]

  15. I received your email through wordpress asking for me to moderate my posting. Obviously I am a novice blogger and did something wrong. I am not sure what to fix? Should I remove post, remove your link,? Can you advise?
    Thanks Janet

  16. Great list of back to school books and a wonderful carnival. School at the Chalet was one of my favorite books growing up and I had forgotten about it until I saw it here. Such fond memories of that book. I’ll have to go and dig it up. 🙂
    Valarie recently posted..Beatrix Potter: A Magical Visit To Remember (Guest Post from Karen Meacham)

  17. Brilliant list. We love Lucky Wish Mouse and Martha and the Bunny Brothers, as well as Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School (sadly that one lives far away at Grandad’s house so is for special occasions!) So many new ones for us to try – as my two start Reception and preschool in September, we are on a double-trouble school starting spree!
    Helen recently posted..I’m looking for an app about… starting school

  18. […] looking for a book about… (starting) school carnival via […]

  19. […] This post is part of Playing By The Book’s blog carnival: “I’m looking for a book about…”. Every month bloggers convene on a given topic and this months is: (Starting) School. […]

  20. […] by the Book’s monthly carnival of children’s books has the theme (Starting) School this month, perfect for this time of year! I have submitted Lucky Wish Mouse Starting School as my […]

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