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The Picture Book Buzz

Butterflies on the First Day of School - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

The amazing Annie Silvestro, the author of the delightful picture books, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains, Mice Skating, and Bunny's Book Club, has done it again.

If you've ever experienced stage fright or had a case of nerves, I bet you remember that fluttery feeling in the pit of your stomach. Someone may have even been told that you had butterflies in your stomach. Don't we grown-ups say the darnedest things! Imagine a kaleidoscope (yep, that's the collective noun) of butterflies in your stomach!

Now, imagine what a child would think that saying meant when she developed a case of first day jitters about kindergarten. This is an ingenious and beautiful exploration of overcoming the nerves many young children experience associated with trying new things and making new friends.

Butterflies on the First Day of School

Author: Annie Silvestro

Illustrator: Dream Chen

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Ages: 3 and up



First day of school jitters, figure of speech, and friendship.


The first day of school is exciting—but it can be scary, too! Meet Rosie, a brand-new student who just happens to have butterflies in her stomach. Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten—she’s had her pencils sharpened and her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, on the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly, and she’ll feel better soon. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she says hello to a new friend on the bus, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! As the day goes on, Rosie frees all her butterflies, and even helps another shy student let go of hers, too.

Opening Lines:

A month before school, Rosie picked out her very first backpack.

It was covered with flowers, and she loved it with all her heart.

She paraded around proudly. "Don't worry," she told her sister, Emily.

"Someday you'll be big enough to go to school like me."

Why I Like the Book:

Anticipation and excitement for the first day of school turns into a roiling belly of butterflies for Rosie when the actual first day of kindergarten arrives. Her dad's assurances and her mother's hugs don't quell Rosie's nerves.

Text © Annie Silvestro, 2019. Image © Dream Chen, 2019.

But when she meets a bubbly, outgoing girl on the bus, some of the butterflies swoop out as she talks and flit about.

Text © Annie Silvestro, 2019. Image © Dream Chen, 2019.

More butterflies drift out of Rosie throughout the morning as she grows more comfortable and confident. By recess, "she could barely feel them flutter anymore." The bright, colorful images offer a diverse classroom of kids enjoying their first day of school and making friends. Importantly, Rosie befriends another shy girl, helps her to feel comfortable and free her butterflies.

As Kirkus said, "Silvestro and Chen take a common figure of speech and transform it, literally, into a lovely expression of a universal experience.” With the most tender and true ending imaginable. This is a great book for giving kids worried or nervous about any situation permission to feel these emotions and one way to express it; as well as a touching story.


- make an all about me butterflies and hang them around the classroom to swoop your nerves away (;

- read First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, Illustrated by Judy Love and talk about how adults also get nervous & butterflies in their bellies;

- try some of these ideas for calming the jitters ~

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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