First Day at Zoo School



Hello Picture Book Lovers,

How I enjoyed sharing the new picture book First Day At Zoo School by author/illustrator Sarah Dillard with my grandchildren, ages five and three!

This book came to me for review at the most appropriate time because my granddaughter is getting ready to start kindergarten. She was very excited about the book, and was anxiously attempting to open it, ready to explore “school.”

But before we even opened the book, she expressed her admiration for the Panda, ‘Gator and Chicken on the front cover by happily exclaiming, “Panda is a girl!”

This surprised me; I hadn’t explored the book yet, so I inquired how she knew this piece of information. That’s when she excitedly turned the book over and pointed to the back cover picture of Amanda-Panda in a dress! Lol, how delightful.

So we settled in to see what happened on the first day of Zoo school. In the story, Amanda Panda notices that the other animals all have best friends on the first day of school, but she doesn’t have one. So she happily chooses Alfred Alligator to be her best friend, even though he doesn’t seem too thrilled about it. He’s also not thrilled about the fact that she calls him ‘Gator.

Amanda insistd that they sit together at lunch and also bosses poor Alfred around a bit. And when he eventually tells her what he doesn’t like about their friendship, she is surprised and a little hurt, and they are no longer friends anymore.

My two grandchildren propped themselves close to me and as I read to them and pointed to the characters. They had a wonderful time! My three-year old grandson recognized the alligator, chicken, giraffe and panda, and even the monkey and the zebra. He was very happy to show me what he knew.

At that moment, I truly appreciated the author’s wisdom for only including a few animals in the book. This small cast of characters allowed the children to really get to know the everyone, especially Amanda and Alfred. They enjoyed Amanda’s energy, but they also felt sorry for Alfred, especially when he had to give up half his cookie and when he kept getting tagged as “it.”

My favorite part of this story was the way the writer brought Amanda and Alfred back together again as best friends. I thought this was perfect because every little child wants a best friend.

I particularly liked the compassion Alfred showed towards Amanda. It’s an emotion children definitely need to be able to understand and give, and I really appreciated the writer including these types of feelings in her story.

And, oh yeah, I liked how Amanda stopped calling Alfred “‘Gator” and started using his real name, which illustrated her new-found respect for him.

This is a great story for the pre-k-2 or 3 set, and has lots of meanings and lessons a reader can share with their little listeners!

Until next time, enjoy!


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