It might still feel like summer outside, but back-to-school is close upon us. Below is a collection of back-to-school picture books to help get children excited and in the mood for classrooms and learning. To round out the pack, there's also a few fall- and Halloween-themed books to build some excitement for fun the upcoming season brings.
Back to School/Fall
Robert Neubecker's newest book, "Fall Is for School," features two darling red-headed siblings. One, the sister, can't wait for fall and going back to school. The brother couldn't disagree more. But the more his sister talks up books and learning, the more he comes to realize there can be something for everyone in school and it opens up a world of possibilities that wouldn't be available otherwise.
The orange- and green-themed illustrations bring the sister's excitement for school to life and should help any reluctant student remember the joys that can come from learning.
If you go
What: Robert Neubecker book signing
When: Saturday, Aug. 12, 11 a.m.
Where: The King’s English, 1511 S. 1500 East
Note: The signing line is for those who buy a copy of the featured book from The King’s English.
While Ms. Melba is at the doctor, Cat is recruited to teach Kitty school — the dog, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus can't make it. Despite some reluctance, Cat discovers he enjoys showing the kittens his rock 'n' roll skills and getting creative with painting and building — even if they make a big mess while doing so.
"Here Comes Teacher Cat" by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda is a sweet, funny book that is told in the second person as the narrator talks directly to Cat and Cat responds with signs and sarcastic faces — something he even teaches the kittens how to do. Cat lovers especially should get excited for the cute story and illustrations.
Both an instructional manual on tools and an encouraging story about working together to learn and grow, "Tool School" by Joan Holub, illustrated by James Dean, can help students get excited for the practical side of school.
Filled with rhymes and onomatopoeia, the five cute tools in this story head to school to discover that each of their individual talents accomplish the most when they cooperate. There are also some child-friendly tool tips at the end.
Mr. Stricter's class is growing tadpoles for a science project, but one of them just won't stop growing in "The Teacher's Pet" by Anica Mrose Rissi. Bruno is the class pet Mr. Stricter has always wanted, so he turns a blind eye to the havoc Bruno causes in the classroom — until his students just can't take it anymore.
The humorous role reversal in this book is accompanied by unique, colorful illustrations by Zachariah Ohora that are bound to make any child giggle, and the adult reading it might even chuckle along.
The blurry, Impressionist-style illustrations by Laura Dronzek are the highlight of this ode to fall by Kevin Henkes. "In the Middle of Fall" talks about all the colors and feelings of the season, from "frisky" squirrels to pumpkins to apples, with a hint at the end of brisk snow to come.
The words and illustrations combined bring the season to life for any reader, no matter the time of year.
"Zombelina School Days" by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Molly Idle is both about back-to-school and has a touch of Halloween, as the zombie ballerina known as Zombelina heads to the classroom. She loves to literally "put her nose" into a book and is thrilled to show off her dance moves during show and tell, though she has some trouble keeping her body parts together.
Then, she befriends a spooky new boy who doesn't fit in and eventually invites the school over to her house for a dance party. Zombelina brings the message that being different is good, in a fun, Tim Burton-like way. This is the third book in the series, following "Zombelina" and "Zombelina Dances the Nutcracker."
This counting book adds more and more witches to a broom as they fly about casting spells. They end up fighting for space on the crowded broom, each getting kicked off one by one until only one is left.
"Zip! Zoom! On a Broom" by Teri Sloat is accompanied by illustrations by Rosalinde Bonnet that will assure any worried children that no witches were harmed during the antics of this story. They can relax and enjoy the witches' goofy adventures in the spirit of Halloween.
In "Grimelda and the Spooktacular Pet Show" by Diana Murray and illustrated by Heather Ross, Grimelda is at it again, this time entering her cat into a spooky pet show. But then, she worries that Wizzlewarts isn't scary enough, so she starts a last-minute search for the perfect pet — unless there's a spell that will do the trick?
This silly story will please both fans of Grimelda and newcomers alike, as the little witch learns lessons about using her magic, while it all works out in the end.
A twist on the "Do You Love Me Mommy/Daddy?" story, "I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas" by Kevan Atteberry compares a parent's love to swamp ooze, grime and gas instead of pretty things — because it's a ghost and his little ghostling who are involved.
This creative play on words brings images like "purple horned skunk" and "mummified bass" that are perfect for Halloween. Parents can start a new tradition of telling their children they love them "monstrously."