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Review of A Most Unusual Day

A Most Unusual Day
by Sydra Mallery; 
illus. by E. B. Goodale
Primary    Greenwillow    32 pp.    g
4/18    978-0-06-236430-2    $17.99

Morning arrives, and Caroline, who is “usually” up with the birds, can’t get herself out of bed. There is something coming later in the day, and the anticipation is obviously affecting her: “Caroline was usually organized. But not today.” “Caroline was usually graceful. But not today.” Mallery and Goodale skillfully embed clues to the big event throughout the text and illustrations: a stack of books on Caroline’s rug includes the titles New Sister and Your New Adopted Sibling; a present sits conspicuously on her dresser; she plays with her food at lunch, making a family out of broccoli and adding “one more thing…” to it. Thoughtfully, Mallery does not sugarcoat the fact that change, even welcome change, can be difficult to cope with; at first, Caroline is so out-of-sorts it’s unclear whether this day is unusual in a good or bad way. However, through the author’s calm but full-of-undercurrents text and Goodale’s warm colors and use of texture, the book manages to depict Caroline’s anxiousness without striking an ominous tone. At book’s end, when we find out exactly why the day is unusual — it’s the day Caroline meets her new baby sister — it’s clear that she and her family wouldn’t have it any other way.

From the March/April 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Minh Lê About Minh Lê

Minh Lê is the author of Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat, and Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He blogs about children's literature at Bottom Shelf Books and writes and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Horn Book Magazine. He served on the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee.

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