First Grade Jitters: The StoryThe story opens with a little boy, Aidan, standing in the yard scowling. He complains that his mother thinks he has "first grade jitters." Yes, he admits (and the illustrations show) that he hasn't felt like eating and he did have a major meltdown when trying on school shoes at the shoe store. Finally, he reveals that he has been wondering about first grade - "just a little." What if he doesn't know enough? Will his teacher expect Aidan to be able to read and write and do some arithmetic? What if he doesn't understand what the teacher is saying?
Aidan scares himself so much that He says, "I think I'll go to bed. And stay there." When his mother asks what's wrong, Aidan says his leg hurts and he doesn't think it will be better in time for the start of school. It doesn't help that his best three friends have been away for the summer so he has no one his age to talk to about first grade.
A phone call from one of his friends gets Aidan out of bed. Finally, they're back! It takes a discussion with his three friends to reassure him. By the end of First Grade Jitters, Aidan says, "I am feeling better inside," and he is able to relax and enjoy playing with his friends.
The Illustrations and Design of First Grade JittersI particularly like the illustrations by Yan Nascimbene, the design of the book and the typography by Jeanne L. Hogile. The crisp artwork, with an interesting muted palette of colors outlined in black, contrasts with the boy's narrative, which is in sturdy black typography, with his strongest feelings and responses in bright red, emphasizing both his worries and his relief when reassured. First Grade Jitters was first published in 1982, with illustrations by the author, Robert Quackerbush. This newly illustrated edition was published in 2010.
The Author: Robert QuackenbushRobert Quackenbush is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. In addition, he earned a master's degree in social studies and a doctorate in childhood education. Quackenbush has written and illustrated close to 200 children's books. Some of his popular characters include Henry the Duck, Miss Mallard and Detective Mole. (Sources: HarperCollins, Robert Quackenbush)
The Illustrator: Yan NascimbeneAlthough Yan Nascimbene grew up in France and Italy, he received his formal art education at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at the University of California at Davis. Nascimbene has not only illustrated more than 50 books, he has also illustrated more than 300 book covers. According to HarperCollins, "His work has been widely exhibited in the United States, France, Japan, England, Switzerland, and Italy. Yan is the recipient of many awards, including one gold and two silver medals from the Society of Illustrators in New York."
(Sources: HarperCollins, Yan Nascimbene Illustration)