Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School: It's Your First Day of School, Annie Claire by Nancy White Carlstrom

Little Annie Claire is suffering first-day jitters on the night before her debut at preschool, and her anxiety manifests itself in a series of questions directed at her ever-patient mother. Her worries range from the trivial...

"What if at story time
I sleep and I snore,
And everyone laughs,
And I just snore some more?" the deepest fears of the very young:

"What if no one will play
Or be friends with me,
And I'm all alone
Sitting up in that tree?"

But Mama warmly but firmly counters all Annie Claire's anxieties with words of reassurance. To the snoring worry she calmly predicts the teacher's reaction:

"Teacher will say
'Annie Claire, sleepyhead!
Remember tonight
It's early to bed!'"

And to the fear of friendlessness she reminds Annie Claire that her friends will be there for her:

"Some of your old friends
Already wait
There in the classroom.
Let's not be late!"

But the empathetic Annie is also worrying about Mama, left alone at home.

"Mama, what if you're sad
And can't eat your lunch,
'Cause you're home all alone,
And miss me a bunch?"

"We will get used to this.
We both have to try.
It will be okay."

"But why, Mama, why?"

"Because, Annie Claire,
I'll always love you.
No matter what happens
Or what you might do."

Despite the promise of new experiences, the first "first day" of school also has a bit of sadness for both parent and child, and Nancy White Carlstrom doesn't gloss over the very real emotions of that momentous day in her latest, It's Your First Day of School, Annie Claire. Carlstrom, the author of the best-selling Jesse Bear books, again brings that parent-child empathy to this new picture book, ably illustrated by Margie Moore, to help ease the transition to those first days out in the wide, wide world.



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