Newton's  Book News 1

Helpful Books For School Days

School is back in session and with it comes learning how to deal with new schedules, teachers and other classmates.  Here is a list of wonderful new picture books that will help youngsters, ages 5 through 8, have a successful school year.

Ready For School, Murphy?, by Brendan Murphy, is a helpful book to qualm and calm the jitters of new schoolers. Murphy is anxious about school and gives his dad excuses to stay home. Some excuses include “butterflies in my tummy” and possibly “some kind of bug.” But fortunately there’s a surprise found at the end to help Murphy begin to feel better. The text is minimal and the colorful pictures include clever foldout pages.

I Will Never Get A Star On Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard, by Jennifer K. Mann, showcases young Rosie who desires a star in her class.  Her teacher gives stars out for neatness and correct answers but Rosie has yet to receive one. She’s a bit disorganized which reflects her desk and sometimes her mind wanders so her answers in class aren’t always right. But her creative ingenuity is about to pay off.  The colorful illustrations are done in ink, gouache and digital collage. This story emphasizes the importance of our uniqueness and individual abilities.

Just Itzy, by Lana Krumwiede, and wonderfully illustrated with pencil, India ink, Plaka paint and Photoshop by Greg Pizzoli, is an encouraging tale that involves perseverance and confidence. Itzy is beginning “spindergarten” and has difficulty learning how to catch his lunch. But he keeps his “eye on the fly” and learns to “never give up” so he spins his web in the perfect spot. He even helps out a fellow spider which adds to his great sense of accomplishment. There are delightful onomatopoeia’s throughout helping make this a delightful read aloud.

8: An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper, is an oversized book filled with exotic and familiar animals. Each page features animals that begin with the next letter of the alphabet. There are also eight positions of one particular animal on each page which encourages counting along the way. Why eight you ask? It happens to be the author’s favorite number. There’s also a “Did You Know” section found at the back which pours over information about each animal found in this educational book.

First Grade Dropout, by Audrey Vernick, and painted with watercolor, pen and ink by Matthew Cordell, is funny and teaches us to not be so hard on ourselves. The nameless first grader does something he is so embarrassed about that he decides to drop out of school rather than face his fellow students ever again. It turns out that his embarrassing action wasn’t as bad as it seemed as he discovers his friend has had a similar experience.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Disney Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow, is filled with encouragement and hope.  With some of the greatest classic animated Disney movies featured in bright color on every page, words of advice help to foster a happier life. For instance, the text reads, “Life isn’t always fair, and mean girls and bullies seem to be everywhere. Don’t despair. Just keep swimming. Eventually you’ll come up into the sunshine.” The movies featured include Beauty and the Beast and Up.

Say Hello!, by Linda Davick, celebrates the importance of being friendly and greeting others, known or unknown, with a smile and a greeting. This brightly illustrated book is simple in both rhyming text and pictures, but the message is packed with punch.  It begins with “Say HELLO! It’s lots of fun. / And here are ways it can be done.” These include a hug, a handshake and a whisper. The story will surely bring a smile and a willingness to befriend all you meet or greet.

Holly Newton is a local children’s book reviewer and writes at and