keeping up with the theme of the beginning of school (i reviewed ellen fischer’s if an elephant went to school on monday), i decided to review kim t. griswell‘s (2013) rufus goes to school (sterling children’s books) today. with valeri gorbachev‘s vivid and colorful illustrations, rufus goes to school details the adventures of rufus leroy williams III, a determined pig who wants to go to school. after deciding that he needs to go to school to learn to read, rufus gets a backpack and jumps on the bus. pigs, however, are just not the type of students the principal wants! not until rufus tells the principal his reason for wanting to attend school is he permitted to join class.
what i LOVE about this book is griswell’s ability to write an engaging story that uses repetition and an expected outcome (we all know rufus will be welcomed at school one of these days) in a way that is not cliché. the language is rich and developed and avoids being overly preachy (which is a trait of several books about children going to school). what i want to commend griswell most on is her authentic writing voice, something many writers try so desperately to discover.
i also loved the authentic message of the book: the idea that school is a place for opportunity. behind the humor and gorbachev’s beautiful illustrations is a solid message about the wonder of school. school is more than book bags and lunchboxes; it is about the possibilities that exist. writers should study griswell’s amazing ability to compose a children’s book with a theme that not only applies to young readers but also adults who are reading rufus goes to school with them. there is a rare purity to griswell’s message that is not always seen in children’s texts.
and, for the record, i love the faces gorbachev draws!
overall, a wonderful read-aloud text to share with younger children or students! let me know what you think of rufus goes to school in the comments below. also, what other back-to-school children’s books do you recommend?