Adventure Annie by Toni Buzzeo
Greetings, library land! Now many of you know that I work in a middle school so you may be wondering why I’m writing about a picture book. Let me give you some background…
Two years ago I was on the COMO steering committee and we were discussing who to bring to the conference. I suggested Toni Buzzeo and was given the green light to make contact. I had kept up with Toni through her writing of fiction, professional books for librarians, and LM-Net posts and felt a kinship with this dynamic librarian. I responded to one of her queries and she wrote back thus starting an “email friendship” that I treasured. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to invite her to Georgia to speak to my colleagues at COMO. Unfortunately, Toni was already booked a year in advance so we started talking about 2009. The 2009 COMO chairperson was agreeable and it all worked out so I finally got to meet Toni in person last October and we hit it off like old friends. I caught up with her again at AASL in Charlotte and we sat down for drinks and talked like we’d known each other for years.
Recently, Toni sent me a note saying she’d written a new book, Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten, and asked if I’d take a look at it and see if it was something I’d like to promote to Georgia librarians. Do I have to tell you how excited I was that she asked me? A few days later a preview copy of the book came in the mail and I fell in love with it right away. Why? Adventure Annie reminded me of me…
The book tells the story of Adventure Annie’s first day of kindergarten. There isn’t a shy bone in the little girl’s body and she jumps out of bed eager to get to school, packing her zookeeper hat, high wire slippers, and walkie-talkies (“just in case”) into her backpack. Her teacher, Mr. Todd, shows Annie her coat hook but she chooses to wear her superhero cape instead of hanging it up. When Mr. Todd tells the children about earning a Gold Star Deputy badge, Annie is just sure she is a shoe-in – but earning the badge requires following the Gold Star rules. Turns out that earning that badge is harder than Annie thinks and her love of adventure may just put her out of the running. An opportunity to shine finally arrives and Annie is up to the task.
This is a really cute story and the character of Annie refreshingly departs from the more standard shy, reticent child on their first day of kindergarten. I also really like that Toni chose to make the teacher a male. One of the most dynamic kindergarten teachers I ever worked with was a male and I think they are woefully unrepresented in children’s literature. And, due to Toni’s extensive background as a teacher and librarian, she has created a Reader’s Theater script and curriculum connections guide, complete with strands/standards, for teachers on her website. As if that weren’t enough, she has also provided teachers with a great list of suggested activities to go along with the title.
This would be an excellent book for elementary school libraries as both a read-aloud in the media center and as a classroom story and kick-off activity for kindergarten teachers. The many boisterous little children who start kindergarten full of enthusiasm and energy will find a kindred spirit in Annie. Perhaps they will also find one in a new favorite author…
Susan K.S. Grigsby
Elkins Pointe Middle School Teacher-Librarian and GLMA Summer Institute Chairperson