K-Gr 2-Jack's first day in a new school does not begin well. First, he spies a large wolf's head gazing out from the classroom window. Next, the children turn to stare at him as he enters the room. As the day unfolds, he is unwilling to undress for gym. In an abrupt shift, the teacher suggests that he play the part of the wolf during singing, and he learns that what frightened him earlier is actually a mask. Readers are told that "Everyone is afraid of the big bad wolf," but "Jack is not." (Jack never speaks.) Somehow he has gained courage from his impersonation, and now the other children want to play with him as himself, not as the wolf. At the conclusion of the tale, everyone seems happy. The simple illustrations appear to have been drawn with crayon and ink and incorporate ample white backgrounds. The message of this story is a bit unclear, and readers may question whether a child would adapt so easily to a new situation, feeling powerful only after donning a scary mask.-Melissa Yurechko, Hartford Public Library, CT Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Plenty of children’s books address first-day-of-school jitters, but this one does a better-than-usual job of capturing how it feels to be a strange place full of strange people. Colored with crayon and ballpoint pen, Jagtenberg’s collage figures resemble homemade paper dolls, so they aren’t too threatening-looking. They’re just odd and intimidating enough—one classmate has unexplained red dots all over his face—to make Jack think “that maybe it is time to go home.” But he stays. . . . By the end of the day, Jack has made friends, his frown has turned upside-down, and the text can exclaim with audible relief that “it was a special day” after all.”—
School Library Journal
The simple illustrations appear to have been drawn with crayon and ink and incorporate ample white backgrounds. The message of this story is a bit unclear, and readers may question whether a child would adapt so easily to a new situation, feeling powerful only after donning a scary mask.
Dutch author and artist Jagtenberg here recounts the events of a new boy's first day of school. When Jack arrives at his classroom door, a large brown wolf seems to be looking out at him. Inside, the wolf turns out to be a mask, but Jack's fears do not diminish. Two to three lines per page realistically portray a new student's sense of being overwhelmed (when the teacher introduces him, "All the children look at Jack./ Jack looks at all the children./ He thinks that maybe it is time to go home"). During a crafts session, "Jack wants to draw but is scared to ask," and he's too shy to run in the gym. He only gains confidence in a game of "Little Red Riding Hood," when he puts on the wolf mask and frightens his peers. An ambiguous image shows "Jack the wolf" reaching out in a hug or a shove as a classmate dressed in red shrinks away. Afterward, everyone smiles, but Jack's behavior goes unexamined. The boy's newfound power could be derived from bullying or simply sails on a wave of his enthusiasm; since he never says a word, readers can't be sure. Jagtenberg sketches the blocky school interiors in rough charcoal-gray, then pastes on waxy color images of the characters; the drawings suggest big, impersonal rooms that might make a child nervous. Her characterization of Jack will immediately draw in readers...