Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kisses for Kindergarten

Kisses for Kindergarten
written by Livingstone Crouse; illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
2017 (Silver Dolphin Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

"I'll reimagine kindergarten!"
said Stella Isabella Harden.
"And really, how hard can that be
with my puppy teaching me?"

Stella Isabella is in no hurry to go to kindergarten. Her yellow pup Buster, through wags and sloppy kisses, has given her permission to stay home. Stella's parents aren't quite so sure, but she's got this figured out. Recess will be a snap as they can romp around in the backyard or go to the park. No sweat on snack time as they can sit on a blanket and eat cookies and drink cups of tea. Buster is not your normal teacher and breaks up the party, but that's okay since his feedback of licks on the face makes it all good. Rest time is taken in a pillow fort, but Buster would rather have a pillow fight than a snooze. His rambunctiousness is forgiven with slurps on both ears. Now story time is a different story. Buster lays his head on a pillow and waits quietly to hear a tale. Stella Isabella stares at the book, but doesn't know how to proceed. With a knowing glance and a smile, Buster sends a message to his human best friend. There is a really good reason to go to kindergarten. A relieved mother and father hear Stella Isabella announce that she has changed her mind. She needs to go to school so she can learn to read and provide her pup with a tale a day. The last spread shows the family gathered around as Stella Isabella reads a story to Buster.

A sweet story, involving a dog and adorably illustrated, will always be a read aloud winner. The rhyming text is good ear candy that could be used for additional phonemic awareness practice. I would pick out a few rhymes in the book and see if listeners can predict the final word in the couplet. With its focus on reading, Kisses for Kindergarten can also be the book you use to kick off Reader's Workshop in your kindergarten classroom. If you are preparing a child for kindergarten, you can share the inside of the dust jacket as a fun checklist. One final idea is to pair this book with a stuffed dog and send it home each weekend with a student. Ask them (with the assistance of a grown-up) to read the book to their stuffed dog (and any pets that happen to be around) and report back to the class. Kindergarten students will definitely connect with this tale.

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