First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters

  • 1695

By: Julie Danneberg / Illustrated by: Judy Love

First day at a new school? You have the jitters!

Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is nervous and scared and doesn't want to start over at a new school. She doesn't know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending.

Fun, energetic illustrations brighten page after page with the busy antics surrounding Sarah Jane. First Day Jitters is an enchanting story that is sure to be treasured by anyone who has every anticipated a first day of school.

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Author & Illustrator Bios:

Julie Danneberg, author

Julie Danneberg is the author of John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall, Monet Paints a Day, and Family Reminders, as well as the best-selling Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series. She is a middle-school teacher in Denver, Colorado.

Read more about Julie.

Judy Love, illustrator

Judy Love lives in North Carolina with her family. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she has illustrated numerous children's books, including First Day Jitters, and Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg.

Read more about Judy.

Awards & Honors:

  • 2001 Storytelling World Award
  • Children's Books Mean Business
  • Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee
  • PW Bestseller list

Editorial Reviews:


Every child who has moved to a new school or is simply reluctant to start a school year can identify with this wittily drawn and suspensefully told story. From the moment she awakens on the fateful day to the moment she steps into the classroom, Sarah Hartwell imagines the worst. Love's ink-and-watercolor illustrations add humor to Sarah's fears, which range from bratty kids to a police search when she doesn't show up. Mr. Hartwell's reassurances don't seem to be much help. The pictures mirror the jangled nerves and outsize expectations (the double-page spread of a looming, prisonlike school is priceless) everyone faces when they are new, all of which leads to a nifty surprise ending that is a delight. Funny and insightful.

School Library Journal

Sarah is hiding under her covers as Mr. Hartwell asks, "You don't want to miss the first day at your new school do you?" From under the blanket she replies, "I'm not going." When he reminds her how much she liked her other school and asks her to think of all the new friends she'll meet, she imagines a classroom where a paper airplane is flying, a boy is pulling his neighbor's pigtail, and another is blowing a gigantic bubble. Mr. Hartwell finally gets Sarah to stumble out of bed, eat a bit of toast, and get into the car where she slumps down into her seat. At school, the principal cheerfully welcomes her and takes her to the classroom where she is introduced as "Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell," the new teacher. There is a bit of foreshadowing that Sarah is an adult, but as she is always partially hidden, the ending will come as a surprise to most readers. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of action and maintain the lighthearted tone. A little subplot in the paintings shows the family cat and dog having their own contest of wills while their owner is trying to get his wife up and out. The joke provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations.


First Day Jitters which was written by Julie Danneberg and illustrated by Judy Love, makes a great companion book to Wemberly Worried. In the opening pages, we meet a certain Sarah Jane Hartwell, who's in the midst of her own first-day-of-school-related panic attack. Sarah Jane is buried under her covers so far that you can't even see her face. In fact, you have no idea what she looks like until the very last page of the whimsical book, which suddenly delivers a sly and funny twist: Sarah Jane's the teacher.

The Horn Book

In spite of Mr. Hartwell's entreaties, Sarah Jane Hartwell does not want to start her first day in a new school. Like all newcomers, she worries about having to begin again and wonders if there will be nice children in her class. But the ending reveals that Sarah is not a new student--she's the teacher! Lively line and watercolor illustrations bring Sarah's plight to life.


ISBN: 978-1-58089-054-0
ISBN: 978-1-58089-061-8

ISBN: 978-1-60734-549-7 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-679-1 EPUB + Audio
ISBN: 978-1-60734-141-3 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5+
Page count: 32
8 x 10

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The Big Test
Last Day Blues
Field-Trip Fiasco