Saturday, August 23, 2008

School Days: Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

I am Dexter Dugan, and I know everything about kindergarten. This is because I am actually going to be a kindergartner very soon.

I am an expert because my big sister Jessie went there, too, one time.

My dog Rufus is an eensy teensy beensy bit scared about kindergarten.

Dexter uses his stuffed dog Rufus as his surrogate scaredy newbie, obsessing over all the usual issues of starting to school: "What if I get lost? What if my teacher is mean? What if I have to do #2 at school?"

Rising third grader Jessie is a tower of patience as she reassures her little brother. "You don't have to be scared, Dexter! You're going to love it!" she says.

Despite her thinning patience, however, Dexter continues to fret and pester Jessica on the bus ride to school:

"Rufus is scared I might get lost."

"You won't."

"But what if I do?"

"You won't."

"But what if I forget to make a map and I get lost then?"

"You won't."


"You WON'T!"

"But what if I DO?"

"I'm not THAT LUCKY!"

Big sister Jessica even puts a dot of blue marker on Dexter's right hand to guide him to the right turn to the kindergarten wing, and Dexter's spirits rise as he is greeted by his pretty young teacher, Mrs. Sugarman, and and a friend from his old preschool, Joey. Together the two do art, cook food, smush Play-Doh, and learn to write letters. At the Imagination Station, Dexter builds a gigantic tower and places Rufus right on top for a penthouse view. Then comes library time, where he learns he can borrow a book "practically forever," and lunch in a cafeteria which is "exactly almost like a restaurant," and recess outdoors where Joey points out that "you can't get lost if someone is always chasing you!"

Suddenly, Dexter realizes that Rufus is missing! Mrs. Sugarman even sends for Jessica to come help Dexter backtrack through his day in the search for the lost toy dog, but even Jess can't spot him anywhere. But then, Dexter remembers Rufus in his tower penthouse, and the first day of kindergarten is saved from disaster.

But once a worrywart, always a worrywart. Back in the bus to go home, Dexter still has a few issues with this kindergarten thing.

"Rufus is scared I won't get to go to kindergarten tomorrow."

"You will."

"But what if I don't?"

"You will."

"But what if I don't remember to wake up early and get ready and get to the bus stop in time?"

"You will."

"I MIGHT not."

"You WILL."

"But what if I DON"T?"

"I'm not THAT lucky."


"I told you SO."

Katie Davis' kid-friendly crayon illustrations for Kindergarten Rocks! create a mood of easy-going, good-natured fun as Dexter works his way through the worries that nag kids on the first day of school, reassuring them that even if the worst happens, everyone at his school will pitch in to help out.

For those worriers who need a detailed overview of the whole kindergarten year, award-winning author-illustrator Rosemary Wells' My Kindergarten is a charmingly authentic story of one kindergarten class' passage from September to May which will entertain as it tells children what to expect as they go through their first term.

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