School Library Journal - First Day at Zoo School
School Library Journal (Jul 2014)
PreS-Gr 1—When Amanda heads out for the first day of Zoo School, she sees that everyone has a best friend except her, so she quickly fixes that. “Hey, Gator! Let’s walk to school together! We can be Best Friends!” Poor Alfred, who doesn’t even want to go to school, is no match for the enthusiastic panda. He spends the day unhappily doing all the things that she wants (sitting in the front row, sharing his cookie at lunch, playing tag) until he finally snaps when she insists they walk home together. “I am NOT walking home with you. You are NOT my best friend. My name is NOT Gator. It’s Alfred!” Predictably, they both go home feeling bad. The next day, Amanda is quiet and Alfred is lonely and guilty. Pushed to the edge by worry when she spends recess hanging upside down, Alfred makes amends. Then Amanda calls him by his given name, and they play happily ever after. The text is the perfect combination of narration and word balloons that lets the story be seen from both sides. Dillard successfully mixes traditional spreads with comic book-style panels. Often the characters or their thoughts slip a little outside the frames, adding an extra dimension to the art. The pictures are crisp and clearly show a wide range of emotions. Pair this title with Peter Brown’s You Will Be My Friend! (Little, Brown 2011) for an aggressively friendly storytime.
—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH