"Some people say kindergarten is no place for a buffalo. How crazy is that? Does your buffalo have a backpack? Well, then. He's definitely ready for kindergarten!"
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein; Balzer + Bray (June 2010); ISBN 9780061762758; 32 pages;
Book Source: Personal copy from our home library
A big, backpack wearing buffalo makes his way to kindergarten for the very first time, walking hand-in-hand with his friend, a little girl in pigtails. His teacher looks slightly worried about her newest bovine student, but buffalo eventually wins her over along with his classmates. Even though he is shy at first and looks different from everyone else, he tries to do his very best. No, he doesn't exactly fit in -- he eats the schools flowers, smashes a little chair, gets carried away painting, and regurgitates his food (ew!) -- but he is a good role model otherwise. Buffalo follows all those important rules of kindergarten like caring and sharing and teaches his classmates that "everyone's special in his or her own way."
What I love about this book is the lighthearted tone and the creative text. It's only natural that some kids will be a little anxious on the first day of school, but Vernick cleverly uses a hilarious and big character to help alleviate their fears. Obviously a buffalo could never attend school, yet Vernick makes it seem that it really could happen, especially since the book addresses the reader personally. This out-of-place character grabs your attention and makes his way into your heart.
Jennewein's illustrative style pairs wonderfully with Vernick's story. He uses a black caran d’ache pencil to create a crayon outline look that's perfect for a book about kindergarten. With muted, soft colors and effective use of white space, the layout of the book is crisp and clean. And, I adore how the comical characters make you smile. I mean, just look at that buffalo -- isn't he the cutest, cuddliest, big and lumbering animal you've ever seen? In my book, he's right up there with the lovable Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street! The page where the buffalo is finger painting always makes my daughter laugh, but I think one of the funniest illustrations is on the title page -- the buffalo is head-butting the bus.
Is my own little buffalo ready for kindergarten? - she says, "Yes! Yes!" Is her mommy ready for her to go to kindergarten? - maybe not quite as ready. But, if a buffalo can manage to adapt to kindergarten, I'm sure my daughter will be just fine, too, so long as she doesn't use her horns in class and takes the book's message to heart!
Audrey Vernick - Author Website
Daniel Jennewein - Illustrator Website
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? Teacher's Guide and Activities [pdf]
Buffalo Coloring Sheet [pdf]
After reading the book, every kid will want their own buffalo. At least my daughter did. I know that paper bag crafts are a dime a dozen in the world of preschool and kindergarten art, but really a brown bag makes the perfect the buffalo to go along with this story. It's already brown!! Plus, the bag buffalo is super simple to create, so kindergarteners can have their very own buffalo in a matter of minutes.
Instructions: Using the illustrations in the book as a guideline, I drew a 5 inch wide buffalo face on a piece of copy paper, complete with horns and ears. My daughter colored in the face and added her own personal touches (her buffalo is a girl with a hair bow). Using a glue stick, she glued the face onto the bottom of the bag. We cut out two arms with notched hooves out of brown construction paper and attached them to the side of the bag with glue. We also cut the tail out of brown construction paper and glued it to the back of the bag.
There you have it -- a brown bag buffalo puppet ready to go to kindergarten. Hmmm...the only thing missing is a blue backpack!
HarperCollins has kindly offered a giveaway. Enter to win a hardcover copy of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?
**Plus, as an additional incentive, the winner of this Brimful Curiosities contest will also be entered (along with me) into a contest for a grand prize -- if this post is chosen over of all the posts in the blog tour, the winner and I each get to pick a personalized pose for the buffalo which Daniel Jennewein will illustrate and then print onto a book bag. How cool is that?
To enter, leave any comment relevant to this post. (Or amuse me with a comment about one of your experiences with an animal in school or homeschool. Any buffaloes visit by chance?)
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