CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 40 . . . . June 14, 2013
Noni dreads the first day of school. She bites her nails and twists her hair, but even her nonstop talking cannot calm her nerves! Both her mother and father try to calm her down. Her little brother also tries to ease her fears. Noni was not ever nervous when she was younger because "all was well with the world" in her mother's arms. But now, she has to go to school! She worries about where she will sit, what she will wear, and how the teacher will treat her. Will the teacher be mean?
On Noni's first day of school, the trip on the bus doesn't calm her down. Her teacher seems very nice, but Noni is still nervous. The day passes in a blur. However, the next day on the bus, Noni meets Briar who is very friendly. She introduces Noni to many other friends on the bus. Suddenly, Noni starts to feel a bit better about school. Her fears start to melt away as she talks to her new friends at school.
Noni has made some important discoveries. Her fears about school were very real, but when she got to know Briar and started to talk to others, the fears suddenly evaporated. In fact, Noni has a fine time at school. Her parents are still anxious when she comes home, but Noni replies, "I really don't know what you are all so nervous about!" Noni has learned some valuable lessons about conquering fears, coping, belonging and friendship.
Heather Hartt-Sussman's endearing story begins by describing how anxious Noni is about her first day in school. The book moves on to explore how Noni copes with her fears and overcomes them through friendship. The story is told with repetitive simple sentences. The pattern of sentence structures will definitely appeal to young children. The writer uses vivid, yet simple, descriptions to make the story come to life.
Geneviève Côté's illustrations add a great deal to this picture book. Noni is a realistic character whose anxious face will ring very true to young readers who are also anticipating their first days in school. Noni's slightly messy hairdo, the fingers in her hair and in her mouth, as well as her simple clothing and backpack, are all very realistic. Côté, a very accomplished author and illustrator who lives in Montreal, has won many awards for her work, including the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration. This is the second collaboration between the writer and the illustrator who also worked together on Noni Says No.
Young readers looking forward to their first day at school will definitely enjoy this beautiful picture book! Noni is Nervous would be particularly useful for parents and teachers as a read-aloud. Young readers could participate in a shared reading experience or could dramatize the story by taking on the roles of the characters in the story. The story will provide the basis for lively discussion with parents, caregivers or teachers on topics such as emotions, family relationships, belonging, friendship, and caring for others.
Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.
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