Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom, and: The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner (review)
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Reviewed by
Ransom, Candice Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten; illus. by Christine Grove.Doubleday, 2017[26p]
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55456-8 $20.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55455-1 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R 4–6 yrs

Amanda Panda knows exactly how kindergarten will go: she’s going to write her name on the board in the biggest letters, build the tallest block tower, and run the fastest, just like her big brother did. When she actually gets there, though, she’s overshadowed at every turn by pink-clad Bitsy (“My favorite color is sparkles!”), who not only gets all the attention but also seems intent on being Amanda’s new best friend. Amanda quits kindergarten and joins her brother’s second-grade class only to find second grade isn’t so great, but then helping a lost Bitsy leads her back to kindergarten and an appreciation for its possibilities. The theme of expectations not living up to reality is treated gently, and with her situational shock and evasive maneuver, Amanda is a sympathetic heroine. In the soft, uncluttered line and watercolor illustrations, the linework has a delicate precision that adds character; tomboy Amanda’s annoyed and dismayed facial expressions contrast humorously with Bitsy’s earnest friendliness, and the kindergarten classroom populated with roly poly panda children is warm and welcoming. The lesson makes an impact without preaching, and kids are likely to want to revisit this one, especially as the first day of school approaches. [End Page 467]

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