June 18, 2018

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A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery | SLJ Review

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redstarMALLERY, Sydra. A Most Unusual Day. illus. by E.B. Goodale. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062364302.

PreS-Gr 2 –A young girl named Caroline moves through her unusual day at school, preparing for the impending arrival of her new baby sister. Mallery’s simple text makes readers feel her preoccupation and discomfort. They are told that she is usually up early, organized, calm, and helpful, but on this day, “she forgot her socks. She forgot her lunch box. Her feet were sweaty and she had to eat school lunch.” There is no explicit mention of adoption, and even the existence of the new baby is not revealed until nearly the end of the book. Rather, the text and illustrations provide ample space for questions and further discovery through reading and rereading, including subtle textual and pictorial clues, such as the words “far, far, away,” and Caroline’s interest in airplanes. The focus of the story is Caroline’s experience, and the ways in which her perspective changes upon meeting the baby, who made “every usual thing, unusually new and perfectly right.” Because of this, the book could be read with any child expecting a new sibling, despite the baby’s depiction as older than a newborn. Caroline and her world are lovingly rendered by Goodale in ink and watercolors. The setting is modern, and the color palette fresh and light. The pages are full of detail and texture where it matters, clean lines, with secondary characters and objects sketched in gray and pastel silhouettes. VERDICT This adoption story fills an important need in most picture book collections while also representing the general experience of becoming an older sibling. A must purchase for any library serving families.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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