Emily races off to her first day of school “too excited to cry”. Once there, she learns that her class will be making “number friends” – learning one new number every day, all the way up to 100. Frankly, Emily and her friends don’t believe they’ll EVER get to 100.
Emily’s First 100 Days of School is a book that’s a bit hard to catalog. It’s about school, true. It’s also about finding numbers in the everyday world surrounding us. It’s about a lot of small vignettes of life that may be new to children, such as lost luggage, Route 66, friends moving away, vegetable Jell-O, and ice fishing. It’s this latter aspect that provides the greatest amount of repeat-reading interest. I found it difficult to read through two whole pages without stopping to explain some new item. In fact, it took us several days to get through all 100 Days. That’s okay, though, as it makes good practice for getting ready for chapter books. I could also see Emily’s First 100 Days making a good bedtime book, because of that continuity.
The text isn’t scintillating, but it is effective and clear. The illustrations are recognizably Rosemary Wells, with colored pencil drawings of animals in human guise.
My favorite aspect of this book is the way it places “going to school” directly into a child’s familiar daily routine. School isn’t a strange new place full of scary new things, but it’s a new extension of what is comfortable and familiar. For every brand-new activity or idea, there is one that is so common as to be unnoticeable, like picking vegetables from the garden, big sisters, birthday flowers, and cookies.
Even better, Wells’ stated aim is to make children aware that math isn’t a boring subject that’s restricted to the schooldesk. The point of the book is to make children aware of how useful, indeed vital, numbers are to our life. In that, it succeeds admirably.
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Emily’s First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells. Hyperion Books, 2005.