First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

Sarah Jane Hartwell does NOT want to get up for the first day at her new school. She wants to stay home, safely in her bed, but her dad insists she go. On the way, Sarah is very nervous; in fact, she starts to feel sick. Her dad lovingly pushes her out of the car, and the school principal is there to show her to her room. The dreaded moment comes at last, the principal introduces her to her class…. Sarah Jane is the new teacher!

I loved this book from start. It’s so cleverly done, my kids never guessed that Sarah Jane was a grownup. They were simply tickled by the idea that a grownup could be nervous about meeting THEM! I can easily see this as a jumping-off point for helping a child who is fearful of starting school — what better way to conquer your nerves than by helping someone else with theirs?

As far as readability, First Day Jitters sits squarely in the middle of the bookshelf. The book is aimed at slightly older children, so it has no infectious rhyme or meter. Perhaps the best aspect of the text is the complete familiarity of Sarah Jane’s excuses and complaints — and of course, her dad’s predictable response to them! The illustrations are attractively done, but very chaotic-feeling. They suit the mood of the story well, but can be a bit overwhelming.

A book well-suited to a nervous or uncertain child; a nice change from the common “everything will be okay and you’ll make lots of friends” type of first-day-of-school book.

Available on Amazon

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love. Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000.