Customer Reviews: Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (Miss Bindergarten Books (Paperback))
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4.9 out of 5 stars
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on July 18, 2001
Looking at this book from the point of view of an adult, I didn't get it. The illustrations are decent, but nothing spectacular. The rhymes are not particularly inventive. And not much happens in the book, which simply shows a teacher getting her classroom ready for the first day of kindergarten, while students are getting ready in their own way - eating breakfast, saying good-bye (or clinging to mom), getting on the bus, and so forth. It's also an alphabet book. Each child in the class has a name that begins with a different letter of the alphabet. But there are hundreds of alphabet books on the market, I thought, and many of them are more clever or better illustrated than this one.
Boy, was I wrong. I got this book out of the library the summer before my daughter started kindergarten. She was a little nervous about starting. She's the type of kid who wants to stand back and observe every situation before she plunges in. That made her the perfect kid for this book. While we had it out of the library, she asked me to read it several times every day. I ended up buying a copy of the book before returning the library copy, because it would have broken her heart to be without it.
My daughter just finished kindergarten, and I have read this book literally hundreds of times. She still loves it, and I think I've finally figured out why it's so appealing. At the beginning of the book, you see a dark, empty, slightly scary looking classroom. For a child who's afraid of starting school, I think that's a pretty good image of her expectation. But a nice teacher comes in and adds blocks, play kitchen toys, mobiles, paint and brushes, posters, crayons and pencils, etc. and turns the classroom into a beautiful, inviting place. Little by little a child learns to see the classroom as a good place to be. Also, as the teacher adds each new thing, it gives the child a chance to see and talk about some of the new things she will discover when she gets there.
This book has already become a classic. It was the first book my daughter's kindergarten teacher read to the class (from talking to other parents, I've discovered that's true in a LOT of classes). And hearing a familiar and adored book the first day of school added to my daughter's sense of comfort.
If you have a child who has any apprehension about starting school, this book is probably the best tool available for helping him or her overcome it.
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At first you read the premise of this, the first Miss Bindergarten picture book, and you find it a bit too much. Not only is this an alphabet book, not ONLY is this a getting-ready-for-school book, but this is also a learn your animals book. Not since Graham Base's, "Water Hole" has an author tried to do so much in a single item intended (after all) for the early reader set. And yet, remarkably, "Miss Bindergarten" is all these things and more. A rollicking raucous encapsulation of ALL the things a kindergarten teacher must do before a single one of her students has entered the room, the book's a pip. I mean, it's impossible to dislike this story. It's a fun read, a collection of truly charming illustrations, and a great way to introduce kids to the concept of school itself. For the child just beginning to learn away from home, this is an ideal gift or present.

Our opening pages show a lovely border collie being woken at 6:00 in the morning by her peppy little cuckoo clock. With her pet cockatoo in tow we watch as Miss Bindergarten (for so she is) goes about her morning by washing her face, finding a lot pair of shoes and eating a bagel with the morning paper. Then she's off with a full trunk and a yawning cockatoo. In the meantime, various students in alphabetical order are getting ready for kindergarten in their own ways. "Adam Krupp wakes up. Brenda Heath brushes her teeth". Every once in a while we cut back to Miss Bindergarten who's tidying up a long abandoned schoolroom, frantically separating tinker toys, hanging mobiles, etc. As she does so it's difficult not to notice the post-it note stuck to her rear, and a forgotten price tag hanging from her blouse's collar. Time passes, more students come near, and in the end Miss Bindergarten's room is complete. "And - oh, oh, oh! - the fun's begun!". A helpful key at the end of the book shows that each student is an animal with the same first letter as his or her name. Therefore, reticent Ian is an iguana and cool Xavier is (believe it or not) a xenosaurus.

Now author Joseph Slate has written a lovely story and I'm certainly inclined to give him kudos for that. But hats off, ladies and gentlemen, to illustrator Ashley Wolff. I've seen plenty of charming elementary school teachers in children's books (Mr. Slinger from "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse", for example), but Miss Bindergarten has an air of authenticity about her that's hard to top. Sure, she's a border collie. But look at her corduroy jumper with the rainbow shirt beneath. Look at her Miss Frizzle-like crazy shoes and that necklace of bright wooden beads around her neck. Miss Bindergarten is so doggone (ho ho) realistic that I have a very difficult time not believing that she wasn't modeled on someone specific. Artist Wolff has crafted a sparkling series of unique illustrations, filled with important details and interesting sights. I mean, who can resist the picture that accompanies the line, "Fran Lister kisses her sister". Does Fran kiss a frog smaller to herself? No! She kisses a tadpole in a highchair wearing a bonnet. THAT is the mark of an illustrator who is paying careful attention to her characters, my friends. THAT is the mark of a wonderfully drawn book.

Perhaps "Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten"'s greatest accomplishment is that it really is a love letter to teachers everywhere. It shows just how hard they work, how much effort and joy goes into their jobs, and how much they care. Kids rarely get to see the behind-the-scenes toil and sweat that goes into their schooldays. "Miss Bindergarten" gives them that chance. It's a peppy wonderful book with great words and a rousing story. For a book that does so much, it's amazing that it's so little known. A class act through and through.
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on April 18, 2000
Miss Bindergarten, a dog wakes up and gets ready for her first day back to school. She packs her car and prepares to fix her gloomy classroom. Her pupils are getting ready for their first day of kindergarten. Each student (animals) has a rhyme to go with their activity: "Beaver Heath brushes her teeth" and "Ian Lowe says, `I won't go' ''. Some are excited and some, such as Ian, are upset. Meanwhile, Miss Bindergarten has transformed her room into a bright rainbow of colors. Ashley Wolff does a wonderful job of illustrating this book. The illustrations are done in watercolor-and-gouache. Depicting the animals realistically, she captures excitement, dispear, and love in their facial expressions. Each animal looks incredibly life like, even though they are portrayed with some human characteristics. I think that it is important for children's books to illustrate animals realistically. If children look at books that show purple elephants and blue horses they will believe can be any color. This way the children will be better able to identify the animal when they see it again. The colors used in this book are very vibrant. Every page contains busy animals and curved text, they fill every available space.
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on August 29, 2011
I think this book is charming, and my younger child loves the animal illustrations. But my kindergartener isn't interested in it, and now that he has actually started kindergarten, I can guess one possible reason why: the classroom shown in the book bears ZERO resemblance to his kindergarten room. Where we live, kindergarten in the public schools isn't about toys and art and dramatic play. It's about desks and workbooks. So the classroom in the book shows my son everything he misses from pre-K. In his shoes, I think I would hate this book for that reason. And as a parent, this book makes me all the more unhappy about his real kindergarten. This is not the book's fault, of course, but it's a small lesson in unintended consequences for me as a parent.
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on July 23, 2001
My pre-k and kindergarten students loved this book. They found all the animals dressed in clothing fascinating. It was a good introduction to centers around the room too. We talked about how much work had gone into preparing the room and how everyone should work together to keep it neat and tidy. Its a great "1st week of school" book, but revisiting it during the year when clean-up has become a problem helped too. The alphabet/animal connection is also useful and fun to work with during an animal unit.
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on December 16, 1999
My 4-year-old and I love this one, and it's also a painless alphabet lesson. (My daughter always insists on recapping the names of all the students on the back inside cover page.) The illustrations are especially delightful -- my personal favorite is the one of the inimitable Miss Bindergarten having her morning bagel and coffee before heading off to school!
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on November 29, 1997
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten is a delightful book that should be a part of every kindergarten classroom! It is a good "ice breaker" story for the first day of school and gives the children an idea of what it is like for the teacher to prepare her classroom as well as exploring the various feelings that children may have about the first day of school.
The rhyming words and repetitive text throughtout the book provide the children with an opportunity to participate in the story, as well as enhancing their recall skills.
The illustrations are beautifully done and provide much for the children to look at. My personal favorite is the one in which Miss Bindergarten (who is a dog)applies lipstick right before school starts!
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on August 24, 2015
I purchased at least 10 "kindergarten" themed books to try to ease my daughter's fears this summer. This is the one she consistenly asks for. She thoroughly enjoys the illustrations, and finds new details each time we read it. We have to read the class photo list at the end of the book every time, and last night before bed I heard her murmuring some of their names. LOL She really connects to these simple little characters, and I think they remind her of students she knew in Pre-K, who she won't be seeing again this Fall. We liked this so much, I also purchased "Miss Bindergarten Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten" and that is the new favorite. I'm very glad they kept the same cast of students she was familiar with. I personally thought all the books I purchased were adorable, but if you can only get one, I would start with this one.
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on July 10, 2014
My 5 year old son loves this book. Each of the kids (animals) names relates with an alphabet letter. I also like how it speaks to all the items the kids get ready while the teacher is getting ready and anticipating her class. Excellent illustrations. This book was suggested by our preschool teacher for summer reading in prep for kindergarten in the fall.
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on April 27, 1999
I love this story. I used it on the fist day of school to help introduce my class to our classroom, I will use it very soon again on the last day of school to remind the children how far they have come and how they have grown. Mrs. Bindergarten is superb!
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