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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, ill. Judy Love

Since I was 98% sure that we’d already done The Kissing Hand, when Kate asked to do a first day of school book I discovered that today’s book was perfect as it came out in 2000. This book is huge with teachers and schools but isn’t a book that won a lot of literary awards or anything. My kids go back to school on Wednesday of this week, so the timing could not be better. With its M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist and fondness for slips and magenta clogs, this proves to be an excellent peek into the state of picture books circa 2000.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

So is it a Midwest thing for kids to go to school before Labor Day? Or am I just making this up?

Kate thinks this lunchbox was uncool but that’s just because she didn’t remember mine. Compare: Which is less cool?

I argue that this book foreshadows its twist by showing how clean it is under this bed. No child would have that amount of floor space available, am I right?

Kate claims that this is her . . .

And this is her Penguinologist . . .

Dead giveaway. A slip. A doggone slip.

Who wore it better? Me as a child? Or “Sarah Jane Hartwell”?

(For the record, that’s Kate in the red dress in front of me.)

Please take a moment to thoroughly appreciate friggin’ magenta Dutch CLOGS with the blue tights and purple skirt that this girl is PULLING OFF! Kate declares her a queen.

But why are all these kids wearing hats? Is this Newsies?

I mention that another book did the exact same twist in its storyline. That book was Back to School Tortoise, which came out in 2011.

Betsy Recommends: Ted Lasso, streaming on Apple TV+.

Kate Recommends: The podcast Dark History

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I have to say, when I first read this book, that slip just made me set it in the late 80s. My mom made me wear slips under dresses and skirts and I haaaaaated them. And first day of school was when the extra fancy outfits came out.

    Also, I was convinced that this was a new kid situation and they’d just moved in, so I never noticed the clean room as clean — I just thought they hadn’t unpacked yet!