Diane Prather: 'Miss Bindergarten' book a fun, easy read

Yesterday I was there to see my grandchildren off on their first day of school. Watching the children arrive with their parents on that first day is one of my favorite times of the year.

So this week's column salutes the 2007-08 students, their parents and teachers. Here's hoping that the teachers' days, aren't quite as wild as Miss Bindergarten's.

"Miss Bindergarten Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten," a picture book, is written by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. It's one in a series of six books about Miss Bindergarten and her students.

The illustrations on the credit pages of the book foreshadow Miss Bindergarten's day. She's fixing breakfast while CoCo Cockatoo holds the newspaper open. Miss Bindergarten is absorbed in the news, perhaps in one headline alone. Perhaps "Wild Weather" forecasts her classroom's atmosphere for the day.

Whatever the reason, Miss Bindergarten breaks an egg on CoCo's tail instead of in the bowl, and the toast is burning.

And that's not all. After she's dressed (in a green jumper and a striped blouse, with shoes to match,) Miss Bindergarten's necklace breaks, spilling beads all over the floor. Then a glass of liquid spills, leaving a stain on her skirt. To top it all, Miss Bindergarten discovers that her little red car has a flat tire. Even CoCo looks concerned.

Miss Bindergarten is a black-and-white border collie. She has 26 students, each with a name representing a different letter of the alphabet (and each is a different animal, too.)

So, from Adam Alligator to Zach Zebra, the student names make up the entire alphabet.

A picture of all of the students is found on the last page of the book, along with pictures of the school's staff, including Mr. King Penguin, the principal. CoCo's picture also is there since he goes to school with Miss Bindergarten.

The kindergarten room is like most, filled with interesting and colorful things. What youngster wouldn't be intrigued by a ladybug jar, a rock collection, a sprouting bean project, and an ant farm? Focus seems to be on butterflies. A bulletin board display teaches the stages in the life cycle of a butterfly, and colorful art butterflies hang from the ceiling. A real butterfly garden has insects in the chrysalis stage.

Everybody arrives for school. Right away things start to happen. Adam Alligator throws his hat too high, knocking down a mobile. Brenda Beaver's backpack opens up, spilling stuff all over. And Christopher Cat has to go, and that's no joke. The wild day has begun.

Miss Bindergarten takes Christopher to the office where Mrs. Simpson Suricate, the secretary, helps him find a dry pair of pants in a box of kindergarten clothes. Miss Bindergarten gets back in the classroom just in time to rescue Adam. He's perched on top of a bunch of things he's stacked on a chair.

Adam is trying to re-hang the mobile.

Lots more chaos is to come. It involves, among other things, marching ants, flying ladybugs and lots of dirt and water,

This book, done in rhyme, is an easy read, and it's fun, fun, fun. Published by Dutton Children's Books (2005), the hardcover book is $16.99. ISBN 0-525-47084-0

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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