Planet Kindergarten



Space mission a fun metaphor for starting kindergarten.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Shows kids what kindergarten is like, even though it's in the context of exploring another planet. Also gives kids some space-travel vocabulary such as "blastoff," "capsule," "oxygen," "escape hatch," "mission control," and "NASA."

Positive messages

Prepare well for new adventures. Hang in there and don't give up when you start to get homesick or miss your parents. Be willing to try new things. You can make new friends in a strange new setting. It's comforting to come back home after a new adventure.

Positive role models

The little boy main character approaches his mission seriously, goes into it well prepared, is upbeat about trying new things, and takes to heart the idea that "failure is not an option." He's also not afraid to admit he's scared or homesick. His parents are loving, encouraging, and comforting. His teacher is welcoming, and his classmates seem nice. He and another kid have a conflict over a ball at recess, but he recognizes it as a simple disagreement. He's responsible and puts his trash away at lunch.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Planet Kindergarten is a playful twist on pre-kindergarten jitters that should speak to any kid with a taste for space travel. Approaching the start of school as if he's on an intergalactic mission, a little boy prepares for blastoff, and then, like a human Buzz Lightyear, logs his observations about this strange new planet that's so far from his home planet. The story's cute, clever, and reassuring, as he conquers his fears and accomplishes his mission.

What's the story?

A little boy approaches starting kindergarten like a rocket launch. "The countdown started," he notes before the title page. The doctor cleared him for liftoff, and he and Mom got lots of supplies (pencils, notebooks). Then, "Blastoff!" and he's "ready to explore." He's "assigned to my new commander" (the teacher), and his parents "are sent back to their own planets." He's now on Planet Kindergarten with other aliens "from many galaxies." He gets homesick and looks for the escape hatch, then remembers what they say at NASA -- "Failure is not an option" -- and he makes it through the day -- "Mission accomplished!" -- and returns to his home planet for "splashdown" (his evening bath).

Is it any good?


The book embraces its aerospace metaphor, coming up with clever equivalents such as the teacher's "flight plan for the day" and gravity being different so we "have to try hard to stay in our seats." Recess is a time to "test the conditions outside our capsule." 

Illustrator Shane Prigmore's angular, futuristic, cartoon-like art is colorful, cheery, and engaging, in keeping with the upbeat, empowering tone of the story of a boy who conquers his fears and boldly goes where many have gone before. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about starting kindergarten. Is there anything scary about it? What new things do you expect to do there? 

  • Why do kids like picture books about rockets and space travel? What would be fun about traveling in a rocket ship and exploring a new planet? 

  • Is it fun to think of going to a new place as if you were on a mission in outer space? Think of another place you could approach like that. How about a trip to the grocery store? Draw a picture of that planet.

Book details

Author:Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Illustrator:Shane Prigmore
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Friendship, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Chronicle Books
Publication date:May 20, 2014
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 5
Read aloud:3 - 5
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle

This review of Planet Kindergarten was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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