Today’s book is more for my readers’ kids than my readers themselves. The author wrote it for much younger readers, around preschool age, specifically to help them know what to expect on their first day of kindergarten. It’s not one of those children’s books that adult readers will read for themselves but you will want to check it out if you have a young child. For this post, I’m reviewing Abigail’s First Day of School by Sarah L. Bailey.
Abigail’s First Day of School follows a young girl named Abigail as she embarks on her first day of kindergarten. Over the next forty pages, Abigail meets her new teacher and fellow students, has lunch, plays during recess, and goes home. Bailey presents the reader with lessons on following directions and learning new rules throughout the story and brings the promise of meeting new friends on the first day of school.
As a little kid’s book, the story is very cute and entertaining. The rhymes pull the story along at a good pace and there’s just enough writing to keep a young reader’s attention. Illustrations make up most of the book, which makes it perfect for basic readers and the adults helping them learn to read. The illustrations depict a diverse cast of characters, which is very important to expose readers of this age to, and I hope that Bailey will continue with this diversity in future books.
Abigail’s messages could not only ease a little kid’s apprehensions about the first day of school but may also make the first day easier for teachers. While the book focuses on showing kids all of the good things they’ll experience on their first day, Bailey also teaches readers the importance of following directions and being respectful. If more children were taught these lessons ahead of school, we’d probably save teachers a lot of headaches. I know it could’ve helped my kindergarten teacher.
The minimalist plot and lack of conflict puts Bailey’s book on the same level as stories like Goodnight, Moon. This form of plot allows adult readers to use this book as a teaching tool for their children, both in the messages from Abigail and for use in learning how to read. However, I’m not sure that this story is one which kids will want to read or have read to them repeatedly. I also think that the lack of plot restricts the appeal of this book to preschool age, not the 4-8 years old that is indicated on the Amazon page. As readers get older, they prefer to have some form of conflict in their stories and this one doesn’t have any.
I’m torn on Bailey’s illustrations. On the one hand, they have the feel of being drawn by actual children, which is an interesting angle for a children’s picture book. However, this trait also detracts from the quality of the illustrations. The perspective does not match from one picture to the next and the scale of the drawings is off, i.e. a kid will look bigger than the others in one image and then the same size as them in the next. There also appears to be a mix of three-dimensional and two-dimensional drawing in the illustrations, especially around the lunch scene. The pictures do look like marker drawings done by children and I can see the appeal in that. Nevertheless, the illustrations hurt my eyes after a few pages and just weren’t my cup of tea.
Overall, Bailey’s book would make for a great bedtime story, especially the night before the first day of kindergarten. It would easily calm any child’s nerves and entertain them at the same time. Some people may hesitate to read the book to/with little boys because the protagonist is a girl, but I don’t think the character’s gender matters at all. The situation appeals to both genders and Bailey writes experiences which could happen to any child, so I think that boys will enjoy this book as well as girls. I don’t think your child will be asking for this story ever night but I recommend getting it to ease his/her first-day-of-school jitters.