Kindergarten ROCKS! — Perfect Picture Book Friday

9780152064686_p0_v1_s260x420Katie Davis is one of the contributing author/illustrators for this month’s Picture Book Idea Month blog posts, (her post will be up on Sunday, November 10th) so I’m highlighting one of her books to complement my blog post about PiBoIdMo last Monday. She also hosts monthly podcasts about kidlit, Brain Burps About Books, and has a host of other resources and learning opportunities on her website,

Title: Kindergarten ROCKS!

Author/Illustrator: Katie Davis

Publisher: New York: Harcourt, 2005.

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 4-7 (but especially kindergartners and their families!)

Themes/Topics: kindergarten, overcoming fears, new experiences

Opening Sentences: I am Dexter Dugan and I know everything about kindergarten. This is because I am actually going to be a kindergartner. Very soon.

Synopsis: Dexter’s not scared about kindergarten. Not at all. Nope. Nosirreebob. Not scared. But his stuffed dog, Rufus, is worried about a LOT of things. What if he gets lost? What if the kids are mean? What if the bus driver doesn’t know the way to the school? What if…?

Dexter’s sister, Jessica, who was a kindergartner a long, long, long, long, long time ago (she’s now in third grade) tries to reassure him, but it’s not easy. She finally suggests that if Rufus gets scared, Dexter should give him a hug. (Brilliant, Jessica!)

Things are going even better than Dexter could have imagined (even if he’d let himself imagine anything other than disaster) until Rufus gets lost! Calamity! Where is Rufus? Will Dexter (or Rufus) find out that really, truly, without a doubt, Kindergarten really ROCKS?

What I like about this book: Besides everything, that is… It is so true to a kid’s experience of wanting to appear brave, but of having all kinds of fears about the first day of kindergarten, or the first day of camp, or anything they’re experiencing for the first time.

I don’t remember my first day of first grade (we didn’t have kindergarten), but I remember the first day of second grade. A little one-room schoolhouse had been hauled into the school yard for the first and second graders (the school was overcrowded because the high school had burned down, and so extra grades were crammed into the elementary school). I was sure we were supposed to go to the little school – but what if I was wrong? I remember standing in the middle of the sidewalk between the big gateposts, not wanting to move in case I made a mistake – then my friend Frances, who wasn’t afraid of anything as far as I could tell, swooped down on me, grabbed my hand, and dragged me over to the little school, where our teacher was waiting.

Katie Davis captures this fear of the unknown perfectly – as well as the fun of finding out that once you get past the fear, the experience ROCKS. Her art is simple, giving the effect of having been colored with wax crayons, and perfectly illustrates the text.

Because the book is from 2005, it is longer than picture books usually are these days, but kids will enjoy every word, I am quite sure.

Check out the book trailer, featuring real kindergartners:

Kindergarten ROCKS! book trailer

Activities/Resources: A great way to get the feel of kindergarten or preschool is to play school. Set up a play center, a story center, an art center, a small table and chairs, get some friends over, and practice what school will be like – be sure to make it fun!

Katie Davis has a counting printable for Kindergarten ROCKS! at her website. has tons of kindergarten activities and crafts to make learning FUN!

Availability: Readily available in paperback.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

11 thoughts on “Kindergarten ROCKS! — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. I love the idea behind the book and the transfer of feelings/fears to the stuffed animal. Absolutely love the video — great idea to have kids talking about their first day! The video rocks too! Great choice!

  2. I saw this book at the library the other night…why didn’t I pick it up? Other than I had two dozen other books in my arms already and couldn’t hold another…I have no excuse! Thanks for a great review, Beth…I will grab it on my next trip.:)
    Looks like Katie has some awesome activities (no surprise there). As a former kindergarten teacher (and mom of three once-upon-a-time kindergarteners), this book sounds like it would be a great help to that anxious child (or mom).:)

  3. Kindergarten DOES rock!! What a great book! I can’t wait to find this one. I spend a lot of my time helping kids not be worried about kindergarten. That 1st week of school can be pretty tough for some kids!

  4. Oh my! I remember my first day of school. It was terrible, I howled the whole time and ran home when the lunch bell went….lol. Maybe a stuff toy might have helped or this book. 🙂

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