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The King of Kindergarten
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Booklist Reviews

This upbeat picture book follows an African American boy through his first day of school, from waking up in the morning to riding the school bus home. Taking hold of his mother's words that he'll be the "King of Kindergarten," the royal metaphor gives him courage throughout the day as he meets new people and situations with bravery and excitement. Each page includes important milestones such as making friends, sharing, playing together, and going through the school day without any major issues, and Brantley-Newton adds clever imaginative details to these familiar scenes (an invisible crown, a chalk dragon, etc.). The illustrations' bright colors reflect the book's positive tone as it conveys the joys of growing up, starting school, and learning school routines. This will make an excellent addition to early childhood classrooms, or as a tool to help future kindergarteners understand what a typical school day can look like. Best of all, this story is free of disasters and jitters, making it an affirming choice for children in need of a confidence boost. Preschool-Kindergarten. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

When a mother gives her son the titular nickname, it inspires him throughout his first day of school—the child imagines that a chalk-drawn crown is sitting on his head as he walks through the "towering doors" of the "grand fortress" and into his "Kindergarten Kingdom." It's a day filled with new friends, "a royal rest" (nap time), and acts of noblesse oblige (the boy shares an extra pudding cup with a dessert-less classmate). And when the teacher goes through all the classroom rules and the work ahead, Barnes (Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut) writes, "It sounds like a lot, but you're the King of Kindergarten. Piece. Of. Cake." Affirming text and energizing drawings by Brantley-Newton (Grandma's Purse), which skillfully balance bright colors, patterns, and textures, should put a spring in the step of any reluctant kindergartner: who wouldn't want to be thought of as "the charming, the wonderful and the kind" class sovereign? Ages 3–6. (July)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-K—Joyful and empowering, this picture book celebrates the first day of kindergarten. A child wakes up on his first day of school with the knowledge that he is going to be the King of Kindergarten. On this special morning, everything takes on a royal shine, from brushing teeth to pulling on pants. Right after breakfast he's off for a ride on a "big yellow carriage" to school where he meets his fellow students with typical royal grace and charm. With the introduction of each part of this brand new day comes the assurance that nothing is too difficult for the King of Kindergarten. The vibrant and cheerful hand-drawn and digital illustrations feature a diverse classroom of children all helping one another. The text leads readers through a typical first day of school with lots of emphasis on being a kind and brave classmate and ruler. The young protagonist is backlit by a crown of a rising sun on several spreads; on others his imagined crown is seen reflected in windows or in chalk outlines on the ground. This marvelous story will give each reader an opportunity to see themselves as "the charming, the wonderful, and the kind King of Kindergarten." VERDICT Perfect for storytime or one-on-one readings, this book is an absolute first purchase.—Laken Hottle, Providence Community Library, RI

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Author Biography

Derrick Barnes wrote the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Award. He also wrote the bestselling chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys. He owns the copy-writing company Say Word Creative Communications and created the popular blog Raising the Mighty, where he "chronicles the experience of bringing up four beautiful Black boys in America." He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and their four sons.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton has illustrated numerous picture books, including The Girl Who Heard Colors (by Marie Harris), Mary Had a Little Glam (by Tammi Sauer), One Love (by Cedella Marley), A Night Out with Mama (by Quvenzhané Wallis), and The Youngest Marcher (by Cynthia Levinson), as well as the chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys (by Derrick Barnes) and Jada Jones (by Kelly Starling Lyons). She wrote and illustrated Let Freedom Sing and Grandma's Purse. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. - (Penguin Putnam)


A Newbery Honor-winning author offers an empowering story about a confident little boy who takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, encouraging new students with a reassuring message about this exciting milestone. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

Instilled with confidence by his parents, a young boy has a great first day of kindergarten. - (Baker & Taylor)

A New York Times bestseller!

A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown.

The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head--like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone--and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He's dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can't wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he's up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can't wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements--and then wake up to start another day.
     Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes's empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton's illustrations exude joy. - (Penguin Putnam)

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