Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the book Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick.  The opportunity couldn't have come at a better time.  As the month of August starts to move forward, quickening it's pace as we go, I realize that my time with both boys home all day is coming to a quick end.  Charley will become an actual real life Kindergartner come September.  There will be no more spur of the moment trips to the zoo just the three of us.  We will have to plan.  Don't get me wrong - Charley is definitely ready for kindergarten and we are easing in to his school career with only the HALF day experience. 

The emotions though are becoming more and more apparent for both him and me.  I am excited for the routine, the stimulation it will give him, the time with friends, and the opportunity to be loved by another adult or two in his life.  I am fearing the impact the separation will have on Henry - even though I can see the good in the upcoming time apart.  I am dreading the feeling of not knowing everything that he is saying, thinking, doing, and learning.  I am praying that the connections I have established, the family meal time, the quiet afternoons that he and I will still have...will allow for plenty of time for this boy of mine to share all that he experiences. 

As a teacher, who is on leave to be home with these two little men + the one on the way, I have a handful of fun beginning of the year books.   I am delighted to have another one in my hands.  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? is a book that will put a smile on both a child and adult's face. 

It touches on the anxiety that children have starting something new:  different looks, different skill sets (scissor skills), getting along with other children, and sharing.  It realizes the excitement of a new backpack and figuring out ones place in a classroom.   It uses current language and phrases like:  How crazy is that? and Kidding!

 My favorite page says:

He'll stop, take a deep breath,
and remember the Rules for
Sharing and Caring.

That's why kindergarten's so great.
You learn to get along without using your horns.

There is also a discussion guide and  coloring sheets available.

Is Your Buffalo Ready for School? is a great book to throw into the weeks building up to the new experience of kindergarten. I am so glad it found it's way onto our bookshelf.  You can win a copy of your own by leaving a comment telling me something you are looking forward to about the school year beginning, how you get ready for the routine shift, or share a favorite kindergarten memory or children's book.

The winner will be chosen on Sunday, August 15th.

The winner will also get their name submitted with mine to win this opportunity....The winning team (blogger and blogger contest winner) each get to choose a personalized pose for the buffalo which Daniel will illustrate and then print onto a book bag for each.

The following is an interview I had with the author Audrey Vernick.   Thank you Audrey for sharing your thoughts. 


1. What inspired you to write this book?

One morning, my son had to bring pumpkin muffins to school for a cooking class. As we were waiting for the school bus, our dog was very actively sniffing around the muffins, and I said, offhandedly, "you might need to teach your dog to bake." A minute passed and then I said, "A smarter writer would have a whole series right there--Teach Your Dog To Bake. Teach Your Cat to Surf. Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums." Later that morning, while walking the dog, I wrote most of Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums in my head.

When my agent sold that book to HarperCollins, they offered a two-book deal. My editor knew I was working on a book called Is Your Yeti Ready for Kindergarten? We agreed to try to turn that one into a buffalo/kindergarten book instead.

2. What feelings and emotions did you have when your children headed off to kindergarten? How did you deal with them?

My sisters had children before I did. I remember a day when we were all in a hotel room somewhere, hurrying off to somewhere. As the last of us was about to leave the room, we realized we had forgotten to take my sister's baby. We had forgotten the baby! That's how I felt when my children left for kindergarten-- this sense that something was terribly wrong, that we were about to go somewhere without our constant companion. It was a very panicky feeling.

Time took care of that pretty quickly. My children loved going to school. And I found many ways to fill my time.

3. What made you pick a buffalo...why not a giraffe?

Good question. I have no idea. But seeing the buffalo that Daniel drew makes me know that it was the right choice. I will admit that for about a day, I changed the buffalo to a humpbacked ox.

4. How long did it take you to write the book?

Hardly any time at all. Editing, on the other hand, took a long time. My editor and I worked very hard to find the right balance between sweet encouragement and snarky humor.

5. Lots of people dream of writing a children's book. Is there any advice you would give to them?

How much time do you have?
I thought this would be easy. And sometimes writing children's books is easy. Getting them published rarely is. The best advice, which I never wanted to listen to in the beginning, is to read a ton of NEW children's books. We're all pretty well versed in the books we grew up with, but it's important to maintain a sense of what publishers are putting out NOW. Once or twice each year, I visit local bookstores and read through the new picture books. I don't actively process the information, but on some subconscious level, I get a sense of things.

It's also worthwhile to find other writers or readers who are good readers of your work. I have a handful of people whose opinions matter to me a great deal. They help me revise and reshape my work before I submit it. It can take a while to figure out who's a good reader for you and who isn't, but for some writers (I am one), it's of great value.

6. What is your silliest or favorite kindergarten memory?

I have very fond memories of the kitchen area in my kindergarten classroom. I remember nervously inviting the young and beautiful Miss Katinas, a first-year teacher, to attend my dance recital. She, in turn, invited me to attend her wedding at the United Nations.

You can get a copy of your own by leaving a comment telling me something you are looking forward to about the school year beginning, how you get ready for the routine shift, or share a favorite kindergarten memory or children's book.

The winner will be chosen on Sunday, August 15th.  

The winner will also get their name submitted with mine to win this opportunity....The winning team (blogger and blogger contest winner) each get to choose a personalized pose for the buffalo which Daniel will illustrate and then print onto a book bag for each.


  1. I can't choose just one favorite children's book- there are so many I love! My top two favorites are Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. I still love them and read them to my own two boys!

  2. Great interview! My oldest is starting kindergarten and I'm both excited and nervous for his school journey to begin!

  3. Sounds like a neat book. My oldest is starting all day kindergarten this year. She is soooo excited! I'm a little nervous about keeping all of the new rules and schedules organized.

  4. My daughter's not in school yet but when she transitions daycare rooms we always prepare with a new blankie or new "color of the week" for her clothes.

  5. We have some big transitions coming up in our home soon. Braden will be starting all day Kindergarten and Olivia will be starting preschool. While I am VERY excited for both of them and all that this year has in store, I also am VERY sad that they are growing up and leaving me! :( This book sounds great. I'd love to share it with both of them before school starts!

  6. I can actually remember Kindergarden and I remember putting eggs in an inubator...eagerly awaiting the day those darn eggs cracked open. It was so much fun. I share this memory because my kiddos aren't ready for school yet and for now, i'm thankful that they are still home with me!!

  7. My son is starting preschool this year and he is pretty nervous about it - but excited, too! I am looking forward to him making some new friends and just getting to experience some new things. It will also be really nice to have some alone time with my youngest, although she will miss him!

  8. My favorite children's book is titled "The Sweet Touch" where the gal in the book gets the power to touch everything and it turns into candy. I got the book for Christmas a few years ago and can't wait for Eli to be old enough to look at the pictures without tearing the pages. I also always loved Cordaroy (not sure how to spell that). My favorite Kindergarten memory is painting on the easles and wearing the big messy smock. I wish I could go back and do kindergarten over. RR

  9. My girls love "First Day Jitters". We would love to have a new first day of school book. Hard to believe Elly and Charley will be in Kindergarten this year. They will have a blast!

  10. My favorite memories of Kindergarten are as a Kindergarten teacher (since I never went to Kindergarten as a child). I am amazed when former students (many years later--college age) come to me and tell me that they still remember when we stood the eggs up on end on March 20th, or when we "caught" the leprechaun and he got away, or when we had a snowball fight in the middle of the winter in the room. I am in awe that they remember all of this and that I had a happy impact on their lives. Current happy memories are when the light bulb goes on and I can see the joy on their faces when they "get" it. What a great job I have.

  11. I love so many children's books. Currently at our house we are reading "We All Went On Safari" which is a book that includes counting in Swahili and is from our Auntie Janine- a very special one!

  12. I look forward to buying new school supplies! It's fun to watch and scope out the deals, trying to find the very best price.

  13. i am most looking forward to my daughter having the opportunity to meet new friends in the area.

  14. My favorite book was Cinderella but my mom would hardly ever read it to me because it was too long. I never went to kindergarten but can see how times have changed and I admire and respect all kindergarten teachers who have this special spark inside and out.

  15. Gavin starts Kindergarten August 30th. I just can't believe the time has gone so fast! Will it be harder for him or me? hummmmmm

  16. My son's looking forward to seeing is friends in school again. And I'm trying to get us all ready again by setting a more strict bedtime!

  17. Nora starts kindergarten this year and I am sad it is all day kindergarten - I will miss her! She is looking forward to it and I know she will do great though. I remember loving Fridays because we got chocolate milk. My mom used to be a substitute teacher and when she subbed for my kindergarten class, I was at grandma's sick that day! It happened to be a Friday and she brought me home a chocolate milk though. =) Jamie Trampe