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The Picture Book Buzz

Sorry, Grown-ups, You Can't Go to School! - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Starting in May this year, there have been so many books released about the first day of school, starting a new school, or school field trips. Are the publishers taking a page from Target's playbook and releasing books a season in advance? I always wondered about selling bikinis in March when it was 40 degrees! Why publish all the "back-to-school" books as the school year winds down and everyone starts the beginning of summer vacation? I guess they're just things to puzzle over during insomnia episodes.

Regardless, here is another fun book that's a kind of parental wish for a FREAKY FRIDAY moment, when they can go to school and have fun and play instead of going about their adult, responsibility laden days.

Sorry, Grown-ups, You Can't Go to School!

Author: Christina Geist

Illustrator: Tim Bowers

Publisher: Random House (2019)

Ages: 3-7



School, role reversal, reluctant students, and humor


It's just another school morning...until Mom, Dad, Grandma, and even Bow-wow the dog BEG the kids to let them come to school, too! Dad can tie his own shoes--why can't he come? Mom is all ready with her brand-new backpack--she's allowed, right? No! Only kids and teachers! Christina Geist's warm, interactive story is the perfect tool for parents of kids who are reluctant or nervous about going to school. The fun refrain--"Sorry, grown-ups! You can't go to school! Only kids and teachers! Only kids and teachers!"--brilliantly paints school as something exclusive and desirable...which kids can access! Tim Bowers's lively illustrations enhance the fun and heighten the hilarity. This is sure to be a back-to-school classic in many families and classrooms!

Opening Lines:

It seemed like any other school day.

But as soon as Lady and her brother, Buddy,

were dressed and eating breakfast at the kitchen table,

things started to get a little weird.

What I liked about the book:

The premise is entertaining: How could reverse psychology apply to the start of school?

One morning, Lady and her brother, Buddy, are confronted with parents, grandparents, and even the dog donning backpacks and wanting to go to school. Unfazed by the kids' redundant refrain "You can't go to school. Only kids and teachers. Only kids and teachers," the grownups pull a perfect kid-like response and yell, "IT'S NOT FAIR."

Text © Christina Geist, 2019. Image © Tim Bowers 2019.

All the fun things that a child would be excited about - new backpacks (with secret pockets),

playing games, reading on the cozy carpet, science experiments, and recess - are driving the adults nuts with longing. Tim Bowers' bright, playful illustrations are absolutely delightful. Just look at the joy of the parents and grandparents as they anticipate going to school!

Text © Christina Geist, 2019. Image © Tim Bowers 2019.

Christina and Tim capture this role reversal brilliantly when the kids shut the adults down, saying "Some things are for you, and some things are for us. It's just the way it is." Doesn't that sound like an adult. Now, look at how Tim captured those faces. A child's exaggerated frown of disappointment on the mom and dad. And the soothing, cajoling "adult" faces of the kids.

Text © Christina Geist, 2019. Image © Tim Bowers 2019.

In the end, is it a promised playdate on the playground after school that makes the adults smile? Or knowledge that the kids are confidently striding off to school? A lack of hesitation or nerves by the kids at the beginning makes it a little unclear what triggered this reaction in the grownups in the first place. Perhaps a bewitched fortune cookie?

Overall it is a fun read, especially when the grownups imagine themselves at school. And it might help ease a child's nerves as they face the first days of a new school year.


- look at Tim Bowers blog to see the progression of the illustrations

- think of another funny role-reversal. Draw a picture or write a story about it;

- what else is something only kids can do?

- make believe about your first day back at school, either as you hope it might be or someplace extraordinary (the moon? mars?); or

If you missed Christina Geist's interview on Monday, find it (here).

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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