On Sea Monster’s First Day

The first day of school brings with it a plethora of emotions. For kids, there is usually some combination of excitement and trepidation, anticipation and hesitation, hope and fear. For parents, there is euphoria! a similar mix of emotions. It’s no wonder that there have been more than a handful of books written to help all of us get through it. Today’s selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday is one of these books…one that handles the subject with a fusion of sweetness and humor that is fun for parents and kids alike.


  • Written By: Kate Messner
  • Illustrated By: Andy Rash
  • Published By: Chronicle Books, June 22, 2011
  • Suitable For: Ages 4-8
  • Topics/Themes: First day of school, conquering fear
  • Opening: “This is it,” my mother said. “You’re a big sea monster now, Ernest. Remember to introduce yourself, play nicely, and use your imagination. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun.”
  • Synopsis: (from jacketflap)
    Sea monster Ernest is starting his first day of school. But starting school is a big job! Fitting in when you’re a sea monster is tough enough, and there’s so much to learn and do—reading, singing, playing hide-and-seek with the fishermen, lunchtime in the algae patch….This funny, charming twist on the worries and joys of starting school will reassure and delight the smallest children and the largest sea monsters alike.
  • Links to Resources: Sea monsters really are amazing creatures, and what kid wouldn’t want to learn more about them? Parenting Science has a huge list of educational resources for kids (and parents, too!) Also, Russell Hawley art has a collection of printable drawings of prehistoric sea creatures that would make great coloring pages.
  • Why I Like this Book: This book combines the funny and sweet in the compelling tale of this unique creature’s fear of the first day of school. Funny, because Ernest’s size creates some challenges when it comes to feeling comfortable at school. Marco Polo and hide-and-seek don’t work out well for a sea monster, especially when his playmates are fish. And it is sweet because we get to see Ernest learn to make friends and overcome his fears about school. This would really make the perfect book to read to a child who is nervous about going to school!

Please head on over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s website to see what other books have been selected for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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  • http://bildebok.wordpress.com/ Cathy Mealey

    One look at that cover and you can TELL there is a great story inside!  Thanks for the fun review.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Yes, the art has a great cartoon feel that is super appealing to kids!

  • Lj Mozdzierz

    The expressions of the Sea Monster and the fishes on the cover are priceless!I know a few little ones who will enjoy this tale!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      I am sure they will, LJ!

  • Tiltonph

    Very colorful and fun cover.  Sounds like a great book to use at the beginning of the school year to deal with the jitters and excitement.  Great choice.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Yes, Pat, it is perfect for the beginning of the school year!

  • http://storypatch.wordpress.com/ Carrie F.

    This looks great, Amy, and funny!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      Can you tell I just love the funny ones!

  • Kate Messner

    Such a great, thorough review, Amy – thank you from another writer, runner, & mom. :-)

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      You are so welcome, Kate! Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    This book sounds wonderful, Amy!  And how great that the author herself stopped by :)  I don’t think there can be too many good “back to school” or “first day of school” books – it’s such a big thing in a kid’s life that it’s great to have lots of different books about it that come at the topic form different angles and with the focus on different emotions and solutions.  Thanks so much for adding this one to our list! :)

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       So true, Susanna! And it’s not even just the first day of school EVER, but the first day of school every. single. year!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bstilborn Beth Stilborn

    This book sounds like a delightful way to deal with those first day/week/month of school fears. (First ANYTHING fears — I remember being afraid of walking to my piano teacher’s house for my first piano lesson. I had to walk over there from school after lunch, and then get back to school before the bell rang for afternoon classes, and I wasn’t used to walking places by myself in town. Fortunately, my cousin walked me part-way and pointed out where I should go to get to the house. I will be forever grateful to him. At that time, I didn’t really realize that other people had fears, too. This would have been a great book for me!)

    Sorry for the long comment! Thanks for sharing this book with us!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       I love hearing stories, Beth! That does sound like it would be scary, especially the first few times. And I think you are right, this book would be great in addressing first anything fears!

    • http://twitter.com/viviankirkfield Vivian Kirkfield

       Beth…I had the same type of fears…was always afraid I wouldn’t find my way back. :(  And, to this day, if I am driving to a new destination, I always Mapquest it in BOTH directions…I feel somewhat comforted knowing I have the return printed out. :)
      Sorry, Amy…I saw Beth’s comment and had to add this. 😉  She needs to know she is NOT alone. :)

  • http://www.flowering-minds.com/ Darshana

    sounds like a cute book. thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/viviankirkfield Vivian Kirkfield

    Amy…I am always looking for books that will help kids with First Day Jitters…and this one is perfect!  Thanks for reviewing it for PPBF.  I’ve shared it on my new FB page. :)