After his debut star appearance in Too Busy Marco, the little red bird with an overactive imagination is back in an entertaining school-themed adventure. When his human mother first raises the subject of school, Marco is puzzled (“‘Skool?’ What is ‘skool’? Can I eat it?”). But he good-naturedly sets off to learn new things in this place called school. At first, he’s lonely and entertains himself in the school yard by hula-hooping with an abandoned hair tie and folding a gum wrapper into a hat. But soon he’s joined by other students, including one friendly boy named Henry, and a teacher named Mrs. Peachtree, whose lessons (“Monday, Tuesday, Chewsday, Chumday, Humday, Doo-Dah-Day”) go right over his head as he daydreams about becoming the first bird to land on the moon. At nap time, all he can think about is his newfound mission: “Must get to moon.” At playtime, he gets his classmates to help him build a moon-high block tower, but when his plan comes crashing down, he realizes that he’s “just a small bird with a big dream.” Not to worry, though. Mrs. Peachtree comes to the rescue with a fun game of “block basketball” and Marco accomplishes something ultimately more satisfying than a loony lunar voyage: He makes a new friend on his first day of school.
The message about friendship is sweet and comforting for those anxious about starting school. But make no mistake: Full of droll humor and Chast’s signature watercolors, Marco Goes to School is first and foremost a fun read. Kids will be giggling over the hilarious speech bubbles and the ditzy bird’s antics, and wondering what Marco will dream up next.
What are your favorite school-set picture books?
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Sandra Lee Rella, mother of two budding bookworms, is a freelance editor and writer, and a former children’s book review editor.