Marco Goes to School

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Marco Goes to School Book Poster Image
Bird's first day at human school is good, silly fun.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows some of the routines at school, on the playground, and in the classroom and demonstrates teamwork and making new friends.

Positive Messages

"Marco was just a small bird with a big dream" -- getting to the moon -- but in the end, making a new friend is a pretty spectacular experience itself. There's also a message about how things are easier if you work as a team.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marco's mom is kind and treats him like any other kid. Ditto his teacher and the kids at school, especially Henry, who becomes his friend and helps him with big blocks, since Marco's "a little bit on the short side."

Violence & Scariness

A tower of blocks comes crashing down, but nobody gets hurt.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Marco Goes to School is an utterly silly story of a small red bird with a big dream: to get to the moon. His first day at (human) school is more about Marco's obsession with traveling to the moon and making a friend than learning classroom routines. But either way, it's loads of fun and accurately reflects the kind of excitement and distractability that many real kids feel when they go to school for the first time. 

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What's the story?

Roz Chast, known for her anxiety-fueled cartoons in The New Yorker magazine, introduced this exuberant red bird in the picture book Too Busy Marco. Here Marco's human mom sends him to human grade school, where he gets distracted after spotting a toy astronaut on a bookshelf: All he can think of is getting to the moon. He makes friends with a boy named Henry, who helps him stack blocks to make a tower to get there. But after it comes crashing down, all is not lost -- Marco's nice teacher comes up with a clean-up game that cheers him up, and he's happy just to have made a friend.

Is it any good?

MARCO GOES TO SCHOOL is crazy, wacky, and not the least bit serious. Marco doesn't know anything about school when his mom first says the word -- "Can I eat it?" he asks. Kids will enjoy seeing this tiny bird trying to fit in with regular-size kids, entertaining himself on the playground by using someone's lost hair tie as hula hoop, kicking a marble like a soccer ball, making a hat out of a gum wrapper. Part of the deadpan fun is the teacher and Henry accepting Marco as just one of the class, rather than a different species.

Silly stuff abounds, like Henry having a box of frozen peas for lunch instead of a nice birdseed and ketchup sandwich like Marco's mom packed for him. And funniest of all is Marco's inattention in class (all he hears from Mrs. Peachtree is "Blah, Blah Blah") and obsession with lunar travel, which keeps him awake during nap time with the thought: "MUST GET TO MOON." Chazt's art is delightfully edgy and expressive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to be a tiny bird in a human kids' school. How do you think you could manage stuff if you were as small as Marco?

  • How does Marco Goes to School compare with other books about school you've read?

  • Did you read Too Busy Marco? How does this second Marco book compare? Do you look forward to more Marco adventures?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books about school and animals

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