My School Stinks – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Going to a new school can be trying for any child. But what if it turns out that everyone at your new school is an animal?

Stuart is the hapless child who ends up in this predicament.

Dear Diary,

I think there’s been a mistake.

My desk mate STINKS, [a skunk]

my locker buddy bites [a crocodile], and my teacher is


I told Mom my classmates are


said ALL little kids are

wild animals. I think I’m

going to be sick tomorrow.

Poor Stuart. He tries thinking happy thoughts and taking deeps breath—coping mechanisms suggested by his clueless parents, but nothing works. Playing sick doesn’t work. And playing with the animals sends him to the nurse’s office with a bad case of the quills. There’s a slew of funny critters who play large or small parts in this nonstop new school adventure.

I’ve read this book 20 times (probably more), and I still laugh at poor Stuart’s predicament and his attempts to cope.

MY SCHOOL STINKS will not just be a favorite of the “new to school” crowd, it will be loved by any child who’s headed off into some new, unknown adventure with their backpack, a mental (or physical) map, and some well-meaning advice that might not work for them. A universal experience. Just take deep breaths. Just think happy thoughts. It will all be fine.

Julia Patton’s hilarious and huggable animals send the humor over the top, including lots of extra details before the story starts

Illustration ©️Julia Patton

and on the back cover

Illustration ©️Julia Patton

and on the end papers.

Illustration ©️Julia Patton

Completely immersive in nature (pun intended), this story offers readers a rich, theatrical experience that kids will want to read over and over again. Well done!


Make a funny list of how kids are like wild animals. How are they different? (Hope you come up with more differences than similarities, LOL!)

Pair this book with School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

Ask kids if they’ve faced new experiences that they were nervous about? Going to a new school? Starting a new activity like a dance class or a summer camp? What did they do to overcome their nervousness?

Parents/Teachers check out this resource about helping children adapt to change or new situations.

Title: My School Stinks

Author: Becky Scharnhorst

Publisher: Philomel, 2021

Illustrator: Julia Patton

Ages: Pre-K – 3rd grade

Themes: coping with new experiences, first day at school, wild animals

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

12 thoughts on “My School Stinks – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. FictionFan says:

    My list of similarities is extremely long, and my list of differences… hmm… well, I seem to be struggling to find any… Oh wait! Got one! Wild animals are furry and cuddly, and little kids aren’t! 😉

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Putting this book on my wish list! It sounds like the perfect book to keep at hand for when things just don’t go according to expectations. Can’t wait to read it!

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