By Terri Schlichenmeyer
A brand-new, shiny box of crayons.
That’s just one of the things you’re looking forward to when you finally start school. Mom says you can’t have them yet, though, you have to be patient. So why not read “I Got the School Spirit” by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison in the meantime?
Fall arrived, summer was done, and that meant that it was finally here. It was time for her and all the kids in her city to “start the new school year!”
As soon as she got out of bed, she brushed her teeth and fixed her hair. She put on her best clothes and her new shoes that told the world she had “the spirit.” Then she ate a good breakfast. Fried eggs make a kid full of the spirit, too.
Everything was in her backpack, including the spirit. And as she waited for the school bus with other kids in her neighborhood, she noticed the spirit come “driving up the street.” One of the other kids was crying – she must’ve been scared about her first day of school – so she hugged her new friend, and shared the spirit.
Inside the school building, she had to admit being nervous. She’d never been to school before, so she breathed deep and counted the spirit. She taught her new friends to do it, too.
And when she reached her classroom, she waited for attendance. That’s when the spirit called her name and she spoke up loud and clear: “HERE!”
There’s so much to learn at school and pretty soon, it was time for lunch. The spirit was at the table, and she shared. Her friends shared, too. Was the spirit hungry?
Not really but it was at the playground. It was there at story time. It sat on the floor and paid close attention. It was kind and friendly and happy to be learning. And when it was time to go home, the spirit hugged everyone hard and put them on the bus. Who knew what would happen at school tomorrow?
“I Got the School Spirit” is cute. And too repetitive. And unfortunate.
If the enthusiasm by author Connie Schofield-Morrison doesn’t get a kid in the mood to learn, then the illustrations by Frank Morrison surely will. Even the most reticent, scared-stiff child will clearly see that going to school is something to be excited about but alas, the word “spirit” is a bit a lot on the overused, tiresome side.
Your child might not mind that so much but you might mind the rest of the story: the kids in this book don’t social distance. They hug, sing, and share food, squished on a crowded table in a crowded lunchroom. The last-year-normal of it all may give today’s parents pause, with timing that’s unfortunate.
Know your child, and know her school. Bring “I Got the School Spirit” home, or put it aside with the knowledge that there’ll be other First Days of School. At that time, for your little student, this book will shine.
By Terri Schlichenmeyer