Published by Levine Querido
Summary: Dat has sailed on a boat, flown on a plane, and today he is taking a school bus. His mother warns him that when people speak it will sound like gibberish but tells him, “Just listen and do the best you can.” As the day unfolds, that’s exactly what Dat does. The world is gray, people look unfamiliar, and adults call him Dav or Dan. But one girl keeps popping up unexpectedly, playing with him at recess, eating with him at lunch, and riding home with him on the bus. By the time they get home, the two kids are friends who understand each other’s names and can introduce each other to their moms. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Pros: I love how this story builds empathy for non-English speaking kids thrown into American schools. The illustrations are clever, incorporating a code that can be cracked if you study the endpapers, and showing how Julie gradually transitions in Dat’s eyes from a gray monster-like creature into a colorful human.
Cons: The story sets the bar pretty high for finding success and a new friend on the first day of school.