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First Day Jitters

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Cover Art of First Day Jitters
First Day Jitters is an excellent book for an elementary school student (or first-time teacher) who is apprehensive about starting school. This humorous picture book was written by Julie Danneberg. Artist Judy Love created the comic and colorful illustrations in ink and watercolors. This is a funny book, with a surprise ending that will cause the reader to laugh out loud and then go back and read the entire story again.

A Story With a Twist

It's the first day of school and Sarah Jane Hartwell does not want to get ready because she will be going to a new school. In fact, Sarah doesn't even want to get out of bed. When Mr. Hartwell tells her it's time to get ready for school, she says, "I'm not going." Sarah complains that she hates her new school, "I don't know anybody, and it will be hard, and...I just hate it, that's all." After much discussion, and no help from the family's feuding dog and cat, Sarah gets ready for school.

By the time, Mr. Hartwell drops her off at school, she is terrified, but the principal greets her at the car and walks Sarah to her classroom. It is only on the last page, when Sarah is introduced to the class that the reader discovers that Sarah is not a student but the new teacher!

The Author and Illustrator

Author Julie Danneberg and illustrator Judy Love have continued the story of new teacher Sarah Jane Hartwell in two picture books: First Year Letters (2003) and Last Day Blues (2006). Julie Danneberg's nonfiction books for youth include Women Writers of the West, Women Artists of the West.

Judy Love has illustrated children's picture books for a number of different authors. The books include: Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson?, I Must Go Down to the Beach Again and Kirby Kelvin and the Not-Laughing Lessons.

My Recommendation

I recommend First Day Jitters for children ages 4 to 8. I have found that children get a kick out of the surprise ending and also find it reassuring to know that they are not alone in being apprehensive about the first day of school. First Day Jitters also makes a good gift for new teachers. Teachers who want to share the book with their class will be pleased to find that the publisher has provided a First Day Jitters Discussion & Activity Guide to download. (Charlesbridge, 2000. ISBN: 9781580890540)

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