Back to School: Bear's Big Day by Salina Yoon
IT WAS BEAR'S BIG DAY.
"I CAN CUT MY PANCAKES ALL BY MYSELF," SAID BEAR. "I'M A BIG BEAR NOW."
Bear is getting ready for his first day of school and feeling very grown up, as he packs his school bag, a brand-new brown one with a bear's face on the flap pocket, with supplies--crayons, glue, and his own lunch box--each in its own proper place.
He looks at his plushie pal, Floppy, waiting quietly on his bureau.
Bear is a big bear now, so he places Floppy by the window to watch for him when he returns.
"YOU NEED TO STAY HOME," HE SAYS. "BIG BEARS GO TO SCHOOL."
But at school Bear doesn't feel so big. Something seems to be missing. His teacher, Miss Fox, is welcoming. His classmates, Panda, Sheep, and Deer, are nice, but Bear notices that some of them have brought their own fluffy friends with them for the day, which only makes Bear miss Floppy more. He can't get into crafts or snack time, and is the only one who can't even close his eyes during rest time. Somehow he thought school was going to be more fun that it is so far.
But Miss Fox notices something is amiss with Bear, and she guesses he is feeling especially alone.
"BEING BIG DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING BY YOURSELF," SHE SAYS.
Miss Fox gets some art supplies together and soon she has Bear working on a special surprise to take home for Floppy, and Bear's sad feelings go away.
It's a big day for Bear after all, in Salina Yoon's third story about Bear and Floppy, Bear's Big Day (Bloomsbury Press, 2016). Yoon's empathetic storytelling will draw young readers, all too aware that their big day is upcoming, into her story from the beginning, and her trademark illustrations, solid, flat figures delineated by thick black lines, give a certain weight to her story about a weighty matter, being big enough for the first day of school. Bear's backward look at Floppy in his window as he heads off to the bus speaks volumes about this big transition in the life of a child, and kids will be happy to see Bear heading off for his second day of school with Floppy on board.
Other acclaimed books in this series are Found and Stormy Night both dealing sensitively with anxiety-producing preschool situations. Salina Yoon is also the author-illustrator of the best-selling Penguin books, such as Penguin on Vacation. (see reviews here).