Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School: four quick (and fun!) steps

We've just passed that landmark of autumn - oh, Labor Day, day of barbecues, last minute summer reading, and saying goodbye to those white sandals. Whether your kid (or teen, or grad student) is dragging her (dark clad) feet or already listing off the activities he's going to join, here are some books and goodies to ease the end of summer transition. As one of our preteen customers recently said, "But I need new fine tip colored pencils."

First, of course, there is the all-important backpack or messenger bag to lug new colored pencils, tasty lunches, and maybe a textbook or twenty - will it be Crocodile Creek's cheerful packs with sunflowers or fire trucks, or will it be a Hello Kitty satchel or backpack (complete with thermos!)? If your student prefers to make her own artistic mark, try Alex's Color and Carry Messenger Bags, which she can recolor over and over.

Once you have the biggest item, what about the second most important item - recess fashion? Does your lunch bag need to match - in which case, Crocodile Creek makes neat, simple lunch packs and thermos, or if your student has more eclectic taste, try Room It Up's trendy and variously sized lunch pouches. And of course, there is always more Hello Kitty (never enough, they say!) lunch and bento boxes.

Once your bag has its little lunch bag friend, there's the question of accessorizing. Does your student prefer puppies, tigers, or horses? Try some Ty Beanie Clips, or a classic character like Corduroy. Fill up that bag with desktop accessories like Decor Craft's Pencil Squares, thin block-ish pencils decorated with mod squares, Alex's Cool Cuts Safety Scissors with funky patterns, or the many, many sizes and shapes of Alex and Hello Kitty colored pencils, markers, chunky crayons, and so on.

Lastly, once you have the necessaries taken care of, why not a few goodies just for fun? Chronicle Books (who have recently acquired on their staff a dear friend of Curious George, the lucky folk) make adorable Thumb Print Note Cards, miniature cards you decorate with your own digits, Ed Emberly style. Precious marbles, notes (perhaps thumb print ones), and other small collectibles can find a home in Kimono Fish Coin Purses or a Recycled Juice Box Bag, both from Two's Company. Another goodie from Two's Company (I am in a phase, can you tell?) that can heal all kinds of playground (or workplace!) booboos are Animal Cool Packs - little ice packs with tiger or teddy faces you can pop out of the fridge to stop any tears. As I recall, a water coloring book used to do the same for me...if only they still made those! (Do they?). Homework will be (almost) fun to do on a Lap Desk from Room It Up: these portable desks have a cozy cushion and even a cup holder for those all-nighters - I mean, those nights your student may be hard at work past 5 pm.

Of course, there are plenty of incredible picture books dealing with the anxieties and tribulations of school, by turns sweetly poignant (Dandylion by Lizzie Finlay, about a lion preschooler who's a bit too out-going for his human classmates), simply hilarious (the eponymous lovable troublemaker David Goes to School by David Shannon), or explosively popular (the Clementine chapter books by Sarah Pennypacker). But we don't want to spoil the rush of packing up the book bag for the first time - we'll save the books for another time! Good luck!

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