There are two things I love about Lisa Robinson’s story below. The first is that she saw a need in children’s literature and got the idea to fill that need. The second is that, even though it took her twelve years, she did not give up. Perseverance is an essential trait for book creators and Lisa’s story is perfect proof of that. Her Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten, illustrated by Eda Kaban (Two Lions) would be a wonderful gift for any prospective kindergartner.
As a child psychiatrist, I try to help not only other people’s children, but also my own with life’s challenges, transitions, and disappointments. Pirates Don’t Go To Kindergarten (Two Lions) grew out of my desire to assist my daughters with one of the first transitions they faced: leaving a beloved preschool teacher behind.
Close, connected relationships foster resilience—in all of us, adults and children—and one of the first significant relationships children experience outside the home is with a teacher. Our children form deep attachments to teachers; they spend many hours a day with them and look to them as parental surrogates. When this relationship is strong and supportive, it’s a source of joy, comfort, and learning for child and parent.
And so, when I had to explain to my daughters that they had to say goodbye to their loving preschool teachers, I was at a loss for how to help them understand why this had to happen and what to do with their sadness. As often happens when I’m trying to grapple with something difficult, I found myself at the library searching for a book that would help. (I have many such tales of heading to the library at challenging times; I find libraries restorative and comforting). There I found books about the first day of school, kindergarten jitters, the 100th day of school, etc. Most of these books presented the first day of kindergarten as THE first day of school, making the assumption that children hadn’t gone to preschool. I couldn’t find any books that told a story about a child feeling upset about moving on to another teacher. So I decided to write one.
Twelve years later, after many revisions, lots of rejections, and absolute certainty that this story would never be published, the book is coming out in time for caretakers to read to children (and I hope it will spark conversations about saying goodbye to important people). My agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, and my editor, Marilyn Brigham, both believed in this story and helped me make it better. (As did my critique group, who tolerated reading this tale over and over again). Eda Kaban, the awesome illustrator of the text, brought this character and her shenanigans to life. I’m particularly admiring of how Eda blended fantasy and reality in the art to convey the imagination and tenacity of pirate Emma.
Appearing soon on my website will be information about how to help children handle the transition to kindergarten. I’m thrilled to recommend that people read lots of books on the topic, including PIRATES DON’T GO TO KINDERGARTEN.
Lisa Robinson is a child psychiatrist and teaches an elective course in Lesley University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. She is the author of Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten and Pippa’s Night Parade, both published by Two Lions, coming out in 2019. Two nonfiction picture books are forthcoming from Schwartz and Wade in 2020: Madame Saqui, Revolutionary Rope Dancer and Were I Not a Girl, the Inspiring Story of Dr. James Barry. You can learn more about Lisa and her books at her website.