Back to School: Sea Monster's First Day by Kate Messner
"YOU'RE A BIG SEA MONSTER NOW, EARNEST," MY MOTHER SAID.
PLAY NICELY AND USE YOUR IMAGINATION. I'M SURE YOU'LL HAVE A LOT OF FUN."
Hunh! Easy for her to say. She's not the one who doesn't fit in the desks and is way too big for the underwater slides She's not the one who discovers that when he gets on the see-saw, his partner is launched right out of the water. Everyone teases him. "You're SO PREHISTORIC!" they chant. Even in the water game of Marco! Polo! when Sea Monster is It and yells "Polo!" he scares all the other kids away.
His first day at school is a washout! When he sees that he doesn't make the grade for Perch Private School or Smelt School, poor Earnest swims dejectedly off into the blue. Then at a distance, through the wavery ripples he sees a shape that looks like another sea monster. Maybe he's not the only one in the sea!
Earnest swims up and up toward the image until his crested head breaks the water and he sees, to his dismay, that it's not a sea monster at all. It's a roller coaster in a seaside park. Everyone on board seems to be having a ball! Hmmmm! How about an underwater coaster? Earnest knows just who has the right build for it!
Earnest swims back to school and invites the others to catch the wave and take a slide from his head to his long, ripply tail, and suddenly he's the center of the group, making a splash at school at last!! Mom was right--imagination does work!
Messner's silly but sweet story and Andy Rash's big, bold illustrations give Sea Monster's First Day (Chronicle Books, 2010) a different setting for the familiar "fitting in on the first day" school story. As Publishers Weekly puts it, "With ample aquatic puns and boisterous, mixed-media artwork, it's a splashy story about fitting in."