Supplies? Ready! Suited up? Check! 3-2-1 Blast off! It’s time to explore “Planet Kindergarten” (Chronicle Books, ages 3-5). Using space travel, L.A. author Sue Ganz-Schmitt has created a clever picture book to prepare children for the unknown in a relatable and reassuring way. The steps needed to safely navigate new territory are humorously illustrated award-winning local animator Shane Prigmore.
The story is told from a young astronaut’s point of view. After finding base camp, orbiting prior to docking and being assigned to his commander, capsule and crewmates, he must now send his mom back to her own planet with the other parents.
Astronauts from assorted galaxies converge on Planet Kindergarten, eager to learn their flight plan and begin their new mission. Ganz-Schmitt includes references to atmosphere adjustment and gravity that make it hard for kids to stay in their seats. Recess involves heading outside the capsule, where our narrator and a crewmate quarrel over equipment. Sent to isolation, which they agree isn’t any fun, they make up and become friends. Ganz-Schmitt and Prigmore even include a trip to the lunch pad for far-out food.
Full tummies mean rest time, but our astronaut cannot calm down enough to nap. His mind wanders, with thoughts turning to home. Is his oxygen low? Where’s the escape hatch? Then, in a triumphant show of self-confidence, the young astronaut recalls NASA’s motto: Failure is not an option. With deep breaths and a positive attitude, it’s time to complete the journey and head home in a spectacular splashdown! This book will ensure that systems are “go” for your new kindergartener.
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