I minored in theatre in college, where I crossed the street from Augsburg to attend Arthur Ballet’s legendary history of theatre class at the University of Minnesota.
Lessons learned in that class came rushing back as I savored Mike Wohnoutka’s Dad’s First Day because it struck me how well this book would play as theatre of the absurd.
Mike is a keen observer of behavior, knowing what will delight kids … and their parents. Turning that first day of school on its ear, showing that, truthfully, parents are just as worried as the child is, provides good fun, discussable emotions, and a natural lead-in to conversations.
The dad’s behavior is drawn in friendly, realistically comic style with a varied palette of gouache paint. His reactions are absurd. Kids will recognize that and whoop with acknowledgment. Dad is endearing and so is the little boy who nonchalantly, even displaying confidence, can’t wait to experience his first day at school.
Word choices make this a good read-aloud while the illustrations make this a good side-by-side book. And you must find the references to three of Mike’s previous books in the illustrations. I found six … can you find more?
Highly recommended for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and preschool educators.