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We don't eat our classmates
2018
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  New York Times Review

In these books, back-to-school jitters give way to smiles, laughs - even a little learning. MAE'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL Written and illustrated by Kate Berube. "I'm not going" is a phrase parents dread this time of year, but a book as clever and friendly as this one may ease the situation. As the first day of school dawns, Mae is holding out, arms crossed, imagining disaster as her mom and dad hustle her out the door, insisting that fun lies ahead. She climbs a tree, where she's joined by a girl named Rosie. Then a "tall lady" climbs the tree too, and tells the kids her own reasons for not wanting to go. She's their teacher, of course - a playful stroke by Berube ("Hannah and Sugar"), whose loose-lined art makes even scrunchy scowls seem delightful. 32 pp. Abrams. $16.99. (Ages 3 to 6) WE DON'T EAT OUR CLASSMATES Written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins. Penelope, a young T-rex in pink overalls, wants to be a good classmate. She just has to kick her habit of ingesting her peers, who all happen to be children. Higgins ("Mother Bruce") knows how to make big, scary animals seem vulnerable, lovable and funny, adding a strategic touch of gross-out when our heroine spits her victims back up. But this story of a reformed predator - Penelope changes her ways after a goldfish chomps her finger - is really about empathy. 48 pp. Hyperion. $17.99. (Ages 3 to 8) THE DAY YOU BEGIN By Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by Rafael López. Starting a new school year is hard enough. Add in feeling different from your classmates, and it can shake a kid to the core. The incomparable Woodson ("Brown Girl Dreaming") and López ("Drum Dream Girl") extend a reassuring hand in this verbally and visually poetic book that soothes concerns about having the wrong hair, bringing strongsmelling lunches, speaking imperfect English or spending the summer vacation at home. The kids we meet all take a first step toward making the most of school: finding the bravery to tell their own stories out loud. 32 pp. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. $18.99. (Ages 4 to 8) THE DINOSAUR EXPERT By Margaret McNamara. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This fourth book featuring Mr. Tiffin's class (the previous one was "A Poem in Your Pocket") takes on both the excitement of a field trip to a natural-history museum and one girl's struggle to feel confident sharing her vast knowledge of prehistoric creatures - especially after a boy informs her, "Girls can't be scientists." Mr. Tiffin to the rescue: He steers her to an exhibit featuring Dr. Brandoni Gasparini, dinosaur expert. As always, McNamara and Karas excel at telling a story that balances facts and feelings. 40 pp. Random House/Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8) BESTFRINTSATSKROOL Written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis. Did you know that "on planet Boborp, childrinx go to skrool"? Of course they do! This exuberant follow-up to "Best Frints in the Whole Universe" explains the ins and outs of the little aliens' raucous way of learning (with a little lunch-throwing in the mix). The language Portis has invented for these colorful characters is hilarious and easy to follow - silly perfection, and maybe even an inspiration for little linguists to make up their own. 40 pp. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8) GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO By Dianne White. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. Starting school also means letting go of the trappings of little-kid life. This wise book bears witness to the transitions that lead up to that big one: growing out of favorite clothes, moving from trike to bike and from crayons to pencils. White ("Blue on Blue") and Wiseman ("Play This Book") keep the tone encouraging and gentle, offering a chance for even the youngest kids to indulge their nostalgia. 40 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $17.99. (Ages 3 to 7) TWIG Written and illustrated by Aura Parker. It's tough being a stick insect. You blend in easily - all too easily, as Heidi, the new girl at bug school, finds. When it comes to making friends, long, lean, woody-brown Heidi suffers, because no one can see her beyond her camouflage until the kind spider-teacher comes up with a solution (a scarf). Truth be told, there's not much to the story, but this adorable debut by Parker teems with delicate details, many of them visual puzzles. 32 pp. Simon & Schuster. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8) MR. WOLF'S CLASS Written and illustrated by Aron Nels Steinke. This upbeat graphic novel - the beginning of a promising new series - chronicles the activities of a bustling class of fourth graders and their devoted, slightly overwhelmed teacher, Mr. Wolf. Yes, he's a wolf; the students are a host of animals, including a frog, a duck, a dog and a rabbit. Everyone has hands and feet and walks upright, though, and their problems and behavior are strikingly like their counterparts in schools for human children - only funnier. 160 pp. Scholastic/Graphix. $9.99. (Ages 6 to 10) MARIA RUSSO is the children's books editor at the Book Review.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Children do get eaten in this new story by Higgins (Mother Bruce), but only temporarily. Consumed by a young, extremely cute T. rex named Penelope, they emerge unharmed (although goopy and justifiably annoyed) after Penelope's teacher tells her starchily to spit them out. Penelope has just started school, and eating is a preoccupation; her school lunch is "three hundred tuna sandwiches and one apple juice." She's startled to find out that her classmates are all children, "So she ate them. Because children are delicious." Understandably, this makes it difficult for her classmates to trust her. It takes an encounter with a hungry goldfish to teach Penelope how it really feels to be eaten. Despite the fact that she's a ravenous carnivore, Penelope's stuffed-animal snout, her tearful look of distress, and her pink overalls make her too adorable to dislike. It's clear that she's doing the best she can, though she does have a few setbacks ("Mrs. Noodleman, Penelope ate William Omoto again!"). Higgins once again delivers sassy dialogue, flawless comic pacing, and faith in the ability of children to learn and grow. Ages 4-8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-Making mistakes is difficult, but maybe it's the best way to learn. Readers can tell from the first page that Penelope, a T-rex, is going to learn a lot at her school, where she is the only dinosaur and the other students are human. Then, ".she ate them. Because children are delicious." Mrs Noodleman insists that she "spit them out at once!" The days pass, and Penelope really tries, but the children are afraid of her. "'Mrs. Noodleman, Penelope ate William Omoto again!,'" a classmate calls out. Walter the goldfish, the class pet, is not afraid, and he gives the little T-rex some of her own medicine-a chomp on the finger. "Once Penelope found out what it was like to be someone's snack, she lost her appetite for children." The narrative is simple, straightforward, and hysterical. Higgins's illustrations in graphite, ink, and Photoshop are bold and cartoonish with plenty of silly touches-a single sneaker hanging by its lace from Penelope's mouth, the slime-covered classmates that Penelope spits out at her teacher's command, the T-rex at the bottom of the slide with her mouth a wide-open cave for the next comer will all garner a laugh. VERDICT For the times when students struggle to understand one another and when impulse control needs a little strengthening, pair this winner with Mo Willems's Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct. An appealing read-aloud selection.-Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all...
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