Planet Kindergarten

Sue Ganz-Schmitt's clever picture book about a brave boy about to start kindergarten will put children in a similar predicament immediately at ease.

Shane Prigmore (illustrator of the Spaceheadz series) uses comics-style panels to build suspense, with strips showing a spaceship "countdown" and the boy's athletic preparations as "day one" draws near. The artist reveals the child's passion for space through his wall calendar and knowledge of all things NASA. The car's taillights double as "boosters" on a rocket ship, and a full-page "Blast-off!" indicates the time has arrived. The author pulls out all the stops, with the boy's teacher as "commander," the classroom as his "capsule" and his fellow students as "crewmates." Prigmore uses a deep space–black backdrop and a brightly lit school and playground to underscore the "planet" allusions, and Mom gives a Vulcan sign as she and Dad deposit their son at the classroom door. The analogy works well for fidgety five-year-olds who defy gravity in an attempt to stay in their seats and who find rest time challenging ("In the quiet and the dark, I get really homesick," says the boy narrator). Yet he stays the course ("Failure is not an option," he quotes, remembering what they say at NASA). Before he knows it, the intrepid kindergartner is splashing down in the tub on his "home planet."

The inventive approach of both author and artist will give anxious children a creative way of looking at their new experiences, as explorers of a new frontier. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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