By: Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by: Hiroe Nakata

Published: August 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions


This is quite the year of uncertainties when going back to school. I’m sure the author had no idea when she wrote this book that so many kindergartners would be apprehensive about going off to school for the first time. Now, this children’s picture book doesn’t address going back to school during a pandemic, but it does address the various issues children with sensory issues might have with going back to school and many of those concerns relate to what families are going through now.

Clover Kitty doesn’t really know what to think about kindergarten, but she isn’t sure she is ready for all the noise and activity, although she does hope to make a new friend or two. But, of course, during Clover Kitty’s first day, she is completely overwhelmed with all the other kitties, the noise and the bright lights. But among all that, a new friend emerged. Oliver is gentle with her and kind. But, when a tail gets in her face while walking in line, Clover Kitty had had enough. Oliver becomes worried that his new friend will never come back to kittygarten again.

What I liked about this story is that it brings sensory issues in kids to light. It’s something I’ve noticed while working in the classroom. Some kids need quiet, some don’t like to be touched or even talked to. Others like a dark corner over a well-lit desk. I also like how Clover Kitty adapted to going back to school with some things to make kittygarten more enjoyable.

Even though this is a children’s book, I wish there had been a conversation about it between Clover Kitty and her mom. As important as I think it is for kids to see other kids like them and ways to adapt to their new routine, I also feel like it is important for kids to learn how to express their feelings and talk about what is going on. Also, Clover Kitty just walks out of school and walks home and no one chases after her or tries to keep her at school. I wouldn’t want a child to get the idea that if they have a rough day, they can just leave. When she gets home she falls asleep and instead of going to school the next day, Clover Kitty fakes being sick and her mom just lets her stay home without talking about what happened at school.

Clover Kitty decides on her own that she wants to go back and isn’t forced to go back to school by her mom, but again, no real conversation about it. But, Clover Kitty does find ways to adapt to kittygarten and even though every day isn’t great, she does enjoy school and her new friend, Oliver.

So, I guess, if you take the book and use it to start a conversation about what school might be like for your child starting school, I think it’s a good start, with some caveats. The illustrations are cute with watercolor-like illustrations. When Clover Kitty feels sad, the illustrations show it and when she is happy, the colors on the page are bright and the illustrator makes the classroom look fun and inviting.

For kids who have sensory issues or have fears about what kindergarten will be like, this is a book to start a conversation about how to handle some of their fears, anxieties, and questions.

Check out the book trailer:

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Laura Purdie Salas is an award-winning author of more than 125 books for children, including her recent books Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations, illustrated by Micha Archer, and Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons, illustrated by Mercè López. Her books have received such honors as Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books for Children, IRA Teachers’ Choice, the Minnesota Book Award, and NCTE Notable book. Laura went to kindergarten in Florida and now lives in Minnesota. She hates crowds and knows a good friend makes everything better. Learn more about the author at

Hiroe Nakata grew up in Japan and moved to the United States when she was sixteen. She is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. Artwork from her first picture book, Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate, was chosen for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Since then, she has illustrated numerous books for children, including her recent titles, Baby Builders, written by Elissa Haden Guest, Baby’s Blessings, written by Lesléa Newman, and One More Hug, written by Inside Edition’s national correspondent Megan Alexander. Hiroe vividly remembers her daughter’s struggles in kindergarten and is happy to report that, at fourteen, her daughter excels in school and plays in the school band.

To purchase a copy of CLOVER KITTY GOES TO KITTYGARTEN, click the photo below:

Other back-to-school books you might like:

A great gift for your child’s teacher:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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1 Comment

  1. Laura Purdie Salas on August 7, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing CLOVER KITTY, Stacie! Definitely, I hope it will start conversations within families:>)

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