A First Time for Everything

A First Time for Everything cover
A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

By Dan Santat
First Second / Roaring Brook Press, 2023
320 pages

Ages 10-14

After several painful experiences with middle school bullies, all Dan wants is to fly under the radar, to be quiet and unnoticed by his peers. A three-week summer tour of Europe with a small group of students (some Dan’s classmates, some strangers) does not appeal, but his parents are determined to broaden their son’s horizons beyond their Los Angeles suburb before he begins high school. As the group travels by bus across France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and England, Dan befriends not only the kids in his group but others as well, including the French teenagers at his Austrian homestay and their adult host, Helga, who speaks German but bonds with Dan over their shared love of professional tennis. For Dan (who is Thai American), the trip offers new sights, adventures, foods, cultures, independence, and even a first kiss; he has a whirlwind romance with fellow traveler Amy, which culminates in his first heartbreak upon their return to the United States (Amy lives in St. Louis). Along the way, Dan is gently encouraged by his teacher to step out of his comfort zone and “live a little.” With burgeoning self-confidence and a new thirst for adventure, Dan returns to LA more prepared to tackle whatever high school might bring. An author’s note and photos from the actual trip provide conclude this heartfelt and relatable graphic memoir.  ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center