August signals the start of school, ushering in big changes for Buzzers and Buzzettes — and moms and dads too — sending first timers to kindergarten and packing older kids off to middle school. Newsbee knows “Nothing Stays the Same,” a lesson for bees and human bee-ings alike. We might not welcome change, but it challenges us, and we learn along the way.

‘Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous, a First-Day-of-School Dilemma’

By Keith Calabrese

“Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous, a First-Day-of-School Dilemma,” gives classroom jitters a fun take. Author Keith Calabrese and illustrator, Juana Medina, pair up on a book that gets an A+ for originality.

Lena’s ready for kindergarten. She’s got her favorite clothes laid out. “Her blue dress. Her pink striped socks. And her headband with the bright flower.” But her canary-yellow slip-ons are too scared to step out.

Daddy suggests Lena’s dress discuss the situation with her shoes, but Lena quips “ . . . they don’t get along. It’s kind of a touchy subject.” Her dad has other ideas about the shoes getting a move-on, but nothing works, until Lena remembers her headband. That fashion accessory might be able to calm her shoes’ fears.

Bold, larger-than-life illustrations bring Lena’s clever story to life — a lesson in being brave delivered in a sole-full story.

‘The Miss Nelson Collection’

By Harry Allard

“The Miss Nelson Collection,” a classic compilation by Harry Allard stars the timeless Miss Viola Swamp, a substitute teacher at Horace B. Smedley School.

In “Miss Nelson Is Missing,” sweet Miss Nelson has problems — spitballs fly and inattention rules. One day Miss Nelson doesn’t show up. In her place is witchy Miss Swamp. She piles on homework and cuts story hour, as the kids wail for Miss Nelson and set about finding her.

The antics continue in “Miss Nelson Is Back.” The children in Room 207 know not to misbehave when Miss Nelson has to have her tonsils out; they don’t want Miss Swamp back, instead their sub is Principal Blands-worth who bores them with “corny card tricks,” and displaying his pen set. The students thus hatch a plot that turns swampy-dark.

The collection concludes with “Miss Nelson Has a Field Day.” A football game is approaching and the Smedley Tornadoes haven’t won all year. Of course, it’s Coach Swamp who whips them into shape.

Each story features a fun twist, and cartoon illustrations by James Marshall add to the hilarity.


By Cynthia Rylant

Moving up a grade takes getting used to and for Flora Smallwood, who’s starting fourth grade, it’s worrisome. Family troubles also have Flora feeling overwhelmed in “Rosetown,” by Cynthia Rylant, a nostalgic read set in 1970s Indiana.

A book lover and emerging writer, Flora finds comfort in Rosetown’s Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop. Her mother works there part time, and her dad is a photographer for Rosewood’s community newspaper.

Flora’s parents live apart, which is difficult for her, and she remains puzzled about their separation. They never fought. Instead “ . . . they had skipped the war completely and gone straight to defeat, raising mutual flags of surrender.”

There are positive elements in Flora’s life though — a solid relationship with her longtime pal Nessy, and a developing friendship with Yury, a boy from Ukraine, a new student. The unique threesome has fun and adventures in this wholesome book with spare text that packs an emotional punch.