Cazet, Denys. Never Spit on Your Shoes. New York: Orchard Books, 1990.
Good evening! This was the first day of school for many children in central Texas. Parents worked hard to get their children ready to go back to school. Teachers did their part, working hard preparing their classrooms for their new students. It was a significant day for parents and students. For young children and their parents going to school for the first time can be a little scary. They don’t know what to expect. For older students and their parents, the first day of school marks the beginning of a new year of activity. For me it signaled the passing of a year in a more significant way than New Years.
While I was considering which book to share, I stopped to have a conversation with my daughter. She grew up to become a music educator and now works in an elementary school here in central Texas. She had been busy setting up her classroom. She told me her plans for the first day of school. This year, she will be asking her student to help craft the classroom rules.
That amusing conversation made me remember this book. I am certain I purchased the book for its title, Never Spit on Your Shoes, when I was teaching preschool. How could I resist? It is a good piece of advice. Take a look at the cover of this book. Like my daughter, this teacher is developing the class rules for the first day of school.
Denys Cazet has shared the first day adventures of a little puppy named, Arnie. Arnie is making the transition from kindergarten to first grade. As the book opens we see Arnie drag himself into the house, throw himself into a chair, and gasp out for milk. The first day of school has been exhausting. His mom brings milk and cookies and they proceed to have a conversation about his first day of school.
I like the way this book is designed! On the double-spread pages of the book, you see an inset of Arnie and his Mom. The rest of the page shows the details of what happened at school. Here’s an example. At the top of the inset picture, Arnie tells his mom, “We had to sit together in a circle and help the teacher make the rules.” The rest of the double page shows the classroom, with the students in the circle working on ideas for rules. Mrs. Hippowitz got some of these helpful suggestions: “Waste not, want not. Always keep your tools dry! Just say no to catnip. Never spit on your shoes. Keep your feet dry. Is it time to go home?” The inset picture shows Arnie whispering to his mom. Under the inset picture Arnie tells his mom, “Never spit on your shoes.” Mom replies, “I promise.” Good advice, but I doubt it made the list. It clearly impressed Arnie. I am looking forward to visiting with my daughter to hear what interesting suggestions Ms. Reimund received for her classroom rules.
This book is very funny! It is evident that Mr. Cazet has spent some time in a classroom. There are many amusing things to discover and discuss. I don’t know, if I would read this book to my child before or after the first day of school. It might be fun to read after and discuss how the child’s day was the same or different from Arnie’s. When you read this book, you need to pay close attention to the words and pictures or you will miss the jokes. Pick up a copy of this book and share it on the first day of school with a youngster you know.
Here are five fun facts about this author.
- He’s been a gardener, mail carrier, teacher, librarian and media specialist.¹
- His characters are based on some of his friends and family.
- The title Never Spit on Your Shoes was an actual contribution to a teacher’s class discussion on rules.
- He was inspired to write the Minnie and Moo stories, when he drove past a herd of cows. All the cows were facing the same direction except two.2
- He lives and works near Napa in California3.