116. “Mr. Monkey’s Classroom” by Jiwon Oh


The first day of school is certainly an exciting experience, but it can also be a very traumatic one. So many new faces in a new place! It might be overwhelming and it surely was for me. I had always thought that having an older sibling would have eased the pain, but lately, I have been having second thoughts…

Mouse was one day away from his first day of school. According to his friend, Cat, there was a lot to be done, like buying new school gear and getting a good night rest. Mouse played along. Mouse stayed cool. All in all, the school couldn’t be that bad if his friend, Cat, was there too. But was she? After Cat had met her old school friends on the way to school, Mouse basically didn’t exist  anymore. Mouse was alone when  finding his classroom, meeting the teacher and… eating lunch. How not to lose appetite!  Cat noticed Mouse leave the cafeteria and she understood. Mouse needed some explanation. Whatever it was, it worked and it completely turned Mouse’s first day of school around.

If your younger child struggles to decipher the strange acting of his or her older sibling at school, “Mr. Monkey’s Classroom” offers helpful answers. At the same time, it reminds the older siblings, that perhaps helping the younger brother or sister during the first days of school is much cooler than simply cruelly disowning them.

The book effectively deals with a delicate social issue, relevant to many young students, and it does it in a very cute and subtle way. Besides, the book surely stands out thanks to the unique illustrations, which are basically bright, Asian-style collages, filled with humor and engaging details.

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