Perfect Picture Book Friday: Take a Kiss to School


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

A couple of quick notes:

1.      The Show-Me-How School Initiative is still looking for A FEW GOOD SCHOOLS.  Please leave a comment on this post, telling which school or other child-care facility you would like to nominate to receive a free copy of Show Me How!

2.      Heather Newman, fellow 12x12er and PPBF participant, did a lovely review of my book on her blog.  If you haven’t read it yet, just click on this link.  My sincere thanks to her for the wonderful things she said…and also for posting the review on Amazon.  I’m really grateful to her for adding the review to the Show Me How Amazon site because I’ve recently read that getting reviews on Amazon is very good for a book that is being sold there.  I believe I read that 25 or more reviews really help book sales.  Over the last two years, several dozen people have reviewed the book…but I never thought to ask them to post the review on Amazon…if anyone did review the book and would like to add that review to Amazon, I would be most appreciative.  If anyone would like to review the book, let me know and I will be happy to send you a copy.

3.      Fall is definitely in the air and I’m so very excited because I’ve joined, not one, but TWO critique groups…one with local SCBWI members (we will meet once a month in person to exchange picture book manuscripts and chat about our progress on the road to publication)…and one with four other members of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 group (the first manuscript exchange will be September 17…but NOT in person…as we are spread out all over the world…which is, in itself, a miracle).  I’m looking forward to living my dream:

Picture books to read and write

Morning, noon and through the night.


And now, since you’ve been incredibly patient…and since it IS Perfect Picture Book Friday…I present:



Written by Angela McAllister

Illustrated by Sue Hellard

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2006)

Ages: 4 and up


Separation anxiety, overcoming fears, helping others


Although Digby, a little otter, has fun during his first day of school, he is reluctant to go again.  He tells his mother that there are so many things to remember (where to hang his coat, how to line up, etc.) and he is afraid he will forget some of them and be embarrassed.  Digby’s mother solves the problem by filling her hands with kisses and putting the kisses in her son’s jacket pocket.  During the day, whenever Digby feels uncomfortable or scared, he takes out one of the kisses and presses it to his cheek.  Helping another student who is even more hesitant than he is enables Digby to forget his own fears…and Digby finds he is looking forward to the next school day.

Why do I like this book

Many of us are anxious about having new experiences, going to new places and meeting new people.  This is a lovely story that will comfort many young children who are anxious about school.  Coping with and overcoming separation anxiety is a big step in a child’s emotional development and parents need to be sensitive and non-judgmental about a child’s fears.  The illustrations convey little Digby’s feelings and will help young listeners relate their real life experiences to his…creating a perfect opportunity for the young listener to voice his own fears.

Related Activities:

For many children, the first weeks of school may be difficult because they don’t like eating “different” foods.  Here is a fun craft activity that might help.


Illustration from Enchanted Learning

You will need: Construction paper, markers or crayons, old magazines with pictures of food, scissors, glue, string or yarn and a wire hanger.

1.      Talk about the different food groups and why we need to eat some from each group every day.

2.      Look through the magazine and cut out pictures of foods.

3.      Paste each picture onto construction paper and cut out.

4.      Punch a hole at the top of each picture and tie a piece of string through the hole.

5.      Attach the end of the string to the wire hanger.

6.      Repeat for several pictures.

7.      Hang up and watch the foods wave in the breeze.


In the story, Digby’s mom puts kisses in his jacket pocket.  You and your child can make a lovely picnic lunch using Pita Pockets.  Fill with your choice of chicken or tuna salad…or perhaps the always popular peanut butter and jelly.  Inviting your child to help prepare meals in the kitchen is a wonderful way to encourage a fussy eater to try new items.

Great lesson plans, games and activities from Kinderplans:

Crafts with and about food from eHow:

Lots of different mobiles from Enchanted Learning:


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on September 14, 2012, in book reviews, children's picture books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, school anxieties, self-esteem, Show Me How! School Initiative and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Great review! I like the “Food Mobile”!


    • Thanks, Erik!  Mobiles are fun to make…and fun to watch as the air moves each part.  You could use any theme to make a mobile…zoo animals, outer space, etc.  Glad you liked the review…it’s a lovely book with a great message. 🙂  


  2. Congrats on your lovely review by Heather and your new critique group – such fun! 🙂 And thanks for the review of a lovely-sounding book I’ve never heard of. It reminds me of one of my favorites – The Kissing Hand – which you beat me to posting a while back 🙂 I love your activities – so original and engaging and perfect! Thank you thank you! 🙂


    •  You’re welcome, you’re welcome. 🙂  Seriously though, Susanna, you first…and then Julie, have been my magical portal to this amazing kidlit community.  Thank you for the kind words about the review and the activities…I think you are building an exceptional resource for parents, teachers and librarians. And yes, I am so excited about the critique groups…and am grateful to Heather for her beautiful review of Show Me How!      


  3. This sounds so sweet, Vivian! My girl just started preschool so this would be a great one to read with her. She’s brimming with excitement, though, not a reluctant school-goer, but I still think she’d enjoy it. And it reminds me that I should get out the Kissing Hand which we have around somewhere.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Carrie…I really appreciate your lovely comment!  I’m not surprised your little one is school-eager. 🙂  I’m sure she has been reading and read to since she was born…or even before. 🙂  But you are right…these books will be enjoyed by every child, not only those with school (or other) anxieties. I am so excited about the critique group…and thrilled that it is spanning the globe…how amazing!  Thank you for being the catalyst…and for setting up the forum on yahoo. 🙂   


  4. What a precious cover. I will share this with young moms and a couple of friends who could use it for their classrooms!


  5. I LOVE this book and its message!


  6. It has an otter. I’m hooked. What a sweet story and the mobile looks such fun to make.


  7. Hi Vivian:
    Heather did a fabulous job on the review for your book. You are very fortunate to be surrounded by so many lovely followers. Grin.


    • Thank you so much, Tracy…I so admire all of the people in this kidlit community (including you, dear Tracy)…the writers and the illustrators all…everyone works so hard at their craft and all are so generous with their knowledge and expertise…it is really amazing.  I feel honored to be part of this mission to create wonderful books for children.:)   


  8. Great message for kids in this book. Starting school can be scary and so I like that it speaks to the reluctant child. Kisses in his pocket – great idea. Like the moblile activity.


    • Thank you, Pat!  I also love the kisses in the pocket…such an easy thing for parents to do for a child…and it really works!  I remember the magic protective dust I used to sprinkle on my kids when they were anxious about going to sleep. Kids are no different than adults…we all have fears to face and overcome. 🙂  


  9. Wonderful post, Vivian. Lovely activity, book, and lunch ideas.


  10. What a sweet idea. I think Cooper and I could use the idea of a pocket full of kisses.


    • Oh yes, Kirsten…I’m sure you and Connor would have a ball with the pocketful of kisses.   Another GREAT activity would be a “hug and kiss” coupon book…each hug or kiss coupon to be redeemed when needed. 🙂  


  11. Oh Wow!, How come I missed this post?… This is the most sweetest story and I just love that cover. How cute to have kisses in your pocket to help you get through the day and I love how he used them to help someone else.
    I am so delighted that a talent such as yourself has joined our critique group. In taking this big step I am looking forward to learning much from the group.
    Thankyou Vivian and I would love to read your book and give a review, sometime.


    • Diane…you made my evening!  Your kind words of praise lift me up. 🙂 I’m thrilled to be in the critique group with gifted people such as yourself…and Carrie, Hannah and Allie.  It’s going to be an awesome autumn! And I’d love for you to review Show Me How!  Do you want to nominate a local school to win a copy?  You could read and review the copy I send…and then pass it along to the school.  Let me know what you think. 🙂   


  12. Every time I come here, you transport me back to a world I once joyfully inhabited… Picture books are not part of my life now… But I always enjoyed reading and sharing them when the girls were young. I even wrote a few of them for my girls too… Might try my hand at one sometime… Keep it up! 🙂


    • Thank you so much, Eliz.  I know you already have so much on your plate already…but any time you want to join this kidlit community, I know you would be welcomed with open arms.  Your loving and caring nature would shine through anything you wrote. 🙂     


  13. I remember reading this book a while ago, but had completely forgotten about it. Thanks for reminding me it’s out there. I like the craft idea, too. My son refuses to eat school lunches. He’d rather go hungry… sigh…

    PS. Thanks for including a link to my recommendation of Colors of Me.


    • Hi Nessa…thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂 Yes, my oldest was a really “picky” eater.  And so was I as a young child. 🙂 Glad I uncovered a forgotten treasure for you…another lovely craft project is to make “hug and kiss” coupon books…the child can decorate each coupon…staple them in a book…and then he/she can pull out one coupon and give it to mom or dad whenever there is a need for a special hug or kiss…and what a great opportunity for the parent to cuddle and talk about anything that might be bothering the child.   


  14. Another great post. I hope the exchange went well and the in-person group is fun. I hate to miss it this month.


    • You will be much missed, Stacy…hope you can make it next month. I know you have a lot on your plate. 🙂 The International Kidwriters critique group members have posted their first ms…I’m excited about both groups.:)
      Hope to see you at next month’s meeting….which is Thursday, Oct.18…and the local SCBWI meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 21…both meetings are at the East Library.


  15. What a lovely book! I’ll have to buy that one for my grandson;)


  1. Pingback: Perfect Picture Book Friday: Take a Kiss to School « Positive … |

  2. Pingback: Picture Perfect Book Friday: Frizzy the Fearful « Positive Parental Participation

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