Review of Never, Not Ever!

Never, Not Ever!
by Beatrice Alemagna; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    48 pp.    g
7/21    978-0-06-307649-5    $17.99

A five-year-old bat named Pascaline refuses to go to school. On the first day, as the other young animals parade past her window, Pascaline clings to the furniture in her family’s tree house. Her mom and dad insist it will be fun, she’ll learn so much, she’ll make new friends. “Never, not ever!” Pascaline screams — so loudly that her parents “shrivel up.” When she sees that she can tuck them under her wing and bring them along (“‘Oh no! NO WAY!’ Mom and Dad yell,” in a diminutive font), Pascaline decides to try school after all. She doesn’t start the day with separation anxiety like the other little bats, but it turns out that dealing with her miniature parents isn’t so easy. The story ends with a complete, and humorous, reversal. This creative take on a first-day-of-school tale offers a glimpse of how things really might go if kids didn’t have to leave their parents behind. Witnessing what a nuisance they can be will elicit chuckles as readers recognize the irony of the parent-child role reversal and relate to the care-taking dilemmas. The mixed-media illustrations use a subdued color scheme and distinct emotional expressions to distinguish a variety of personalities and experiences. An entertaining pick for the start of school.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen

An educator and a senior editor at Barefoot Books, Autumn Allen is the author of All You Have to Do (Kokila/Penguin, 2023). She holds an MA-MFA in children's literature and writing for children from Simmons University, and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She was the 2020-2021 Writer in Residence at the Boston Public Library.

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