Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The day you begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

For some reason I thought this was a new baby book - but it's really about new beginnings anywhere, especially in school.

A diverse array of children, centering on the girl on the cover, are shown entering new situations or groups in which they feel left out. In gentle, poetical words, Woodson addresses readers directly - maybe they feel out of place because they look different than the other children, like the girl on the cover. Or, like a new boy in school, they speak a different language. Their food is different, their economic situation is different, they are shy or uncertain of how to enter into a group.

But each one of the lonely children begins to find their own voice. They think about their strengths and unique qualities, about the things they can do, and as they share they find things in common and the children become friends.

With Lopez' dazzling and colorful illustrations, this is not just a good first day of school book, or a celebration of differences, it's a warm and encouraging tale for kids who are taking the first steps in trying something new, whether that be learning a new language, attending a new school, or adjusting to changes in their family.

Verdict: I predict this one will be a favorite choice for teachers at back-to-school functions, but I hope it gets pulled out frequently in many different situations so kids can fall in love with the illustrations and be encouraged and inspired by the text.

ISBN: 9780399246531; Published August 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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