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From the first time we walk through the door of our school, we are becoming. The people there, the places inside and outside those walls, and entire sensory experiences, individual and shared, shape and connect us. In This Is A School (Candlewick Press, March 29, 2022) words by John Schu and illustrations by Veronica Miller Jamison, we are able to see how our stories grow and intertwine with others. Within this book, rhythmic words and lively, vibrant images declare an invitation for infinite possibilities. With his first few sentences, John Schu not only takes a child (us) into a school, but warmly accepts us. We are told to look and listen. As each portion of his poem unfolds, we come to understand this is not any kid but every kid. In the initial scenario an encouraging, engaging cadence is established. After each scenario is disclosed, it is followed by four two-word affirmations.
is in each of those four-phrase declarations.
John Schu also uses another technique to supply us with a reading rhythm. After the first setting, the others begin with a repeating phrase followed by a defining word. School and community are synonymous and both are in constant transition. Happy positivity binds each part of the narrative together until the end. It is here we are asked to again look and listen. We are more than we were in the beginning.
Let take a moment to salute the choice of color palette we are introduced to on the open and matching dust jacket and book case. It resonates JOY! On the front, the right side, the teal and turquoise brick building with the splash of red orange around the windows is stunning. The hues in the pennants hanging across the doorway are reflected in the clothing worn by the characters. Do you notice how everyone is actively participating in this moment? Be sure to notice the details such as the butterfly, the objects held by several of the children and the pinwheel in the principal's hand. Here and throughout the book, children and adults from a variety of ethnicities are featured. When the jacket is removed from the case, the underside unfolds to become a poster. We are near the nine gathered children. There are books on shelves framing the image. There are books in stacks and scattered on the floor about them. They are reading and chatting with each other about what they are reading. This image brings to us the very real sense of togetherness found in the book. These illustrations rendered by Veronica Miller Jamison in
watercolor, acrylic paint, and digital collage
are two-page pictures, full-page pictures and smaller images grouped on a single page. The children are highly animated with facial expressions, especially their eyes, portraying their emotions. Their clothing sometimes reveals their interests. Readers will want to observe all the extra elements. The bulletin board in the hallway foreshadows activities highlighted later in the story. Pinwheels appear again. And so do the adults we saw bringing their children to school in the morning and those adults greeting the kids. The size of the fonts and placement of text is perfection.
We love this book! It is a celebration of community and belonging, a joyous tribute to what school feels like when everyone is seen and everyone belongs. A perfect read aloud, This Is a School lets students know that it's OK to be quiet or loud, to know the answer or not to know the answer, to feel a range of feelings, and to know that they matter: everyone is important! Every school library and early elementary classroom should have this book.
This Is a School is a heartfelt valentine to all that a school can be. Schu’s charming narrative and Miller Jamison’s vibrant illustrations bring to life an institution that calls adults and children alike back to school. Educators will appreciate the tenants of social emotional learning woven thoughtfully within the storyline. Parents will see the benefit of interpersonal and affective elements as they impact their child’s emerging schema, defining school in relational terms and drawing them eagerly toward learning. And children will no doubt see themselves amid the diverse and colorful array of students portrayed herein. The not-so-hidden curriculum depicted in this warm and encouraging storyline keeps in mind the value of perceived support and shared experiences as they facilitate the development of enthusiastic, engaged learners. The result is a delightful, assuring, hopeful point of reference that will comfort and impassion children as they approach the coming day(s) at school.
I absolutely love this book! What a beautiful poem about what a school should be- a collection of people who encourage students to share and try, respect and transform into a positive learning community . The beautiful illustrations invite us in, helping to tell this lovely story. ❤️
This beautifully illustrated book touches on all that makes schools good- the community that supports, celebrates and learns together. It is the perfect book for new students, first year teachers and anybody who is part of a learning community. Beautiful and gentle.
This gorgeous book captures the spirit of what really makes a school - all the individuals who come together to create a loving community. As a teacher of young children, I highly recommend this book. -Kitty Donohoe, Public School Teacher
This book by John Schu takes the fear out of an experience every child goes through. Children can’t imagine what “school” is. Many children fear an unknown experience. This Is A School shows kids the wonderful experience they will enjoy. Beautiful watercolors depict the gentle tone. Gorgeous book.
We all know that a school is nothing without its people, and in this gorgeously inclusive book every reader will see themselves in the pages. The kids, parents, teachers, and workers have a wide range of skin tones, differently abled kids are reflected, a boy struggles with math, and there's even a brief tense moment when a goldfish loses their bowl and must be rehomed! The story itself is a love story to schools and those who come to learn and teach there. It's a must have for every classroom library.