Antoinette Portis. Kindergarten Diary. New York: Harper, 2010. 27 pages.
Every adult can remember the anxieties of starting a new job. What’s it going to be like? Will I make friends? Am I going to like it? But few of us can recall the terror of the day before kindergarten. Scary teachers, mean big kids, strange school work–who knows what lies ahead?
In Kindergarten Diary, Antoinette Portis does a wonderful job of showing the hopes and fears of little Annalina as she starts kindergarten in a way that’s relatable to kids and endearing (and perhaps a bit poignant) to adults. The book is laid out as a diary. Each “entry” is dated, and most pages have lined paper as the background. No worries, though–the text is in an easy-to-read font, so you don’t have to worry about struggling through faux handwriting. The art, which mixes distinct-looking color drawings with photographs of objects, is fantastic, and tells the story just as much as the text.
There’s some good, nuanced stuff in here. For example, from “September 2.5: Still the First Day,” Annalina says how her mom walked her to her classroom and “held my hand hard,” before the teacher made the grownups leave. Over two pages, we see Annalina’s schoolmates, some weepy, some waving. In the right corner, outside a window, we see three anxious-looking parents, their faces practically pressed to the glass. Very, very true.
The rest of the book is just as brilliant. My four year-old absolutely loves it, and I do too. Great art, great message–there’s not too much more you can ask for in a kids’ book.