FICTION
The Day You Begin
illus. by Rafael López. 32p.Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Aug. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399246531.
COPY ISBN
OrangeReviewStarK-Gr 2-A beautiful and inclusive story that encourages children to find the beauty in their own lives and share it with the world. A young girl with brown skin and curly black hair stays home through the summer to watch over her younger sister while her classmates travel to distant lands. A young boy from Venezuela arrives in his new school and finds the children in his class do not speak his language. Another child brings a lunch that her classmates find too strange while another isn't physically able to keep up with the play of other children. Each child feels very alone until they begin to share their stories and discover that it is nearly always possible to find someone a little like you. López's vibrant illustrations bring the characters' hidden and unspoken thoughts to light with fantastic, swirling color. Shifting hues and textures across the page convey their deep loneliness and then slowly transition into bright hopeful possibilities. Full-bleed illustrations on every page are thick with collaged patterns and textures that pair perfectly with melodic prose that begs to be read aloud. Though the story focuses on four singular experiences, there's an essential acknowledgment that everyone will experience a time when no one is quite like them, when they can't find their voice, or when they feel very alone. Woodson's superlative text sees each character turns that moment of desolation into an opportunity to be brave and find hope in what they have in common.
VERDICT This masterful story deserves a place in every library.

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