In this sweet animated presentation of Adam Rex’s picture book (2016), colorfully illustrated by Christian Robinson, a newly built school, named Frederick Douglass Elementary, suffers from first-day jitters. The skillfully edited opening shows construction workers finishing up before the camera pulls back to reveal the completed building. With gentle reassurance, narrator Erin Bennett soothingly tells how School experiences a rocky but ultimately hopeful start. Sounding youthful, Pierce Cravens brings a wide-eyed innocence to his voicing of School, expressing surprise with the vast number of kids arriving and frustration with children who find him scary or boring. When three buzzkill boys harshly criticize School, his eyelike windows sag, and when the fire alarm buzzes, he shakes from the noise. Hope comes when a shy girl warms up to her first day at school. Ron Butler brings quiet authority to his reading of the janitor, with whom School forms a lovely bond. School bells and fire alarms accent bouncy background music in this charming tale.
— Brian Wilson