Picture Book Review: The King of Kindergarten
An especially important and empowering read
We received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Review Date: July 8th, 2019
Written By: Derrick Barnes
Illustrated By: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The King of Kindergarten is ready for action!
Starting Kindergarten is a big milestone—and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking changes in stride with his infectious enthusiasm!
Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes’s empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s illustrations exude joy.
This book takes us through the first day of Kindergarten. Our main character, the “you” in the story, is encouraged and reminisced over by his parents as he prepares for the day. “My baby is going to school” his mom comments, and his dad measures him to show that he’s growing so fast. All the rather boring aspects of getting ready and heading to school are re-worded to make them feel more magical and kingly. The bus is not just a bus, but a chariot, for example. When he reaches the front door, he is reminded to hold his head high and treat everyone with the kindness a king would show. The boy spends the day feeling proud and helpful and bravely makes new friends and shares his lunch. The day goes wonderfully and he’s excited to start all over the next day. The mood of this story is just so proud and happy, and makes Kindergarten seem like it’ll be a total breeze with such an attitude. Which is nice, because I feel like a lot of books focus on the jitters of going to a new school, whereas this one sort of empowers your kid to think there’s no need for jitters at all.
I think it’s a great addition to the world of children’s books and will be an especially important and empowering read for many a young black boy (not just them, of course, but it will likely have a greater impact because of the representation).
When I first read it, I was momentarily worried that Madeline wouldn’t feel like she could relate to it as much because the words are speaking to her as “you” but the pictures are showing a boy. She’s so caught up in gender identifiers right now, so the “King” aspect was sure to throw her off. But this does not take away from the book in the slightest. And I reminded myself that I’m not a scrawny British boy with magical powers and I still manage to relate to Harry Potter just fine. No, HP is not written in second person, but still my worries need not be there for this book. Kids are smart enough to be able to imagine themselves in other characters shoes. As it turned out, once I read it to her, there was nothing to worry about as far as her connecting to the story. She just enjoyed it for the story itself, and said she was excited to go to kindergarten too. But as the princess, because she’s already a princess. Haha
- Font Readability: 10/10
- Kid Engagement: 9/10
- Mommy Engagement: 9/10