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Picture books put focus on school

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By Karen Macpherson
Scripps Howard News Service
Published:
Just in time for the back-to-school season, here's a new crop of picture books that put an entertaining focus on the classroom:
Marshall Armstrong is the new kid in school and he doesn't really fit in. For one thing, his school notebook says "private and confidential" on it. For another thing, his lunch looks like "space food" because it comes in silver wrappers.
The boy doesn't even like TV, but prefers to read the newspaper. So, when he invites classmates to come to a birthday party at his house, they are reluctant, figuring it won't be any fun.
But, as author/illustrator David Mackintosh shows in his wonderful new picture book, "Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School" (for ages 4 to 7, $16.95), people aren't always what they seem.
It turns out that the party is a blast, and by the end of the party, his classmates have a new respect for him. So when another new kid suddenly shows up at school soon afterward, they're more than willing to expect the best from her.
A familiar children's character has a wild new adventure in "The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School" (for ages 4 to 7, $16.99). Author Laura Murray, a former teacher, obviously had fun telling this story in a lilting rhyme, detailing just what happens when a class bakes a Gingerbread Man and leaves him to cool while they head out to recess.
But the Gingerbread Man doesn't want to be left behind and races all over the school trying to find his "classmates." Mike Lowery's hilarious illustrations, arranged in comic-book panels, inject further fun to this school tale.
Author/illustrator Laura Ljungkvist takes readers on a unique school tour in "Follow the Line to School" (for ages 3 to 6, $16.99). As she did in three previous books, Ljungkvist invites young readers to follow a black line from page to page.
As readers follow the line, they discover the various facets of school life, from the music and art rooms, to the math corner, library and cafeteria.
Ljungkvist wraps the line this way and that way around various objects, even creating letters from it. The result is a mind-bending journey, complemented by eye-catching illustrations.
Mother-daughter team Anne and Lizzy Rockwell join forces for another tale of the kids in Mrs. Madoff's class in "First Day of School" (for ages 3 to 6, $16.99).
Anne Rockwell's text is clear and comforting as she shows how the different children in the class excitedly prepare for heading back to school.
Lizzy Rockwell's colorful illustrations add interest and detail, picturing a diverse group of kids doing a variety of back-to-school tasks, from getting a haircut to buying a backpack.
Preschoolers will love learning all kinds of things -- letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more -- in "Maisy's Amazing Big Book of Learning" (for ages 2 to 5, $14.99). In this sturdily covered book, author/illustrator Lucy Cousins showcases her popular mouse character named Maisy as she moves through all kinds of learning activities.
Many pages include a lift-the-flap feature; young readers will soon catch on that they'll find a chick -- or two or more -- each time they open it up.
It's Pet Day at school, and a young boy decides to take one of his collection of dinosaurs to school.
But his tallest dinosaur wrecks the school bus, his spikiest dinosaur ruins the class soccer game and his widest dinosaur breaks the cafeteria table.
In "Dino Pets Go to School" (for ages 3 to 6, $16.99), author Lynn Plourde uses a cheerful rhyming text to detail the chaos caused by each dinosaur until the young narrator finally hits on the perfect solution.
The students use birch-bark paper and wear old-fashioned clothes, and their one-room schoolhouse is pretty primitive. But in "Hornbooks and Inkwells" (for ages 5 to 8, $16.99), author Verla Kay highlights how American students in the 18th century weren't so totally different from students of today.
Back then, as today, students struggled to learn to read and they got into all kinds of classroom mischief.
Silliness reigns in "Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches" (for ages 5 to 8, $16.99). Author Lisa Broadie Cook shows how Martin MacGregor just can't seem to get his homework done and safely back to school in a week when he has a substitute teacher.
The substitute isn't buying any of his excuses, and Martin spends much of the week doing extra work to make up for his lost or chewed homework.

Story tags » BooksParenting

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