Review of Ode to a Bad Day

Ode to a Bad DayOde to a Bad Day
by Chelsea Lin Wallace; illus. by Hyewon Yum
Preschool, Primary    Chronicle    48 pp.
4/23    9781797210803    $16.99

With loads of age-appropriate melodrama, a young girl laments all the bad things that happen on a bad day, starting with “Too Much Milk in My Cereal.” Late to school (“always rushing, hurry, hustling”), she falls and gets a boo-boo, then someone cuts the line at school (“that spot was mine, Sylvester Pine!”), she gets the hiccups, and she must eat a boring lunch (because, of course, the pudding cup was left at home). After school is no better: a boring trip to the market (“A chore at the store? I fall to the floor!”), slimy spaghetti for dinner, and the discovery of a noisy cricket in her room at bedtime (amusingly ironic, as the cricket has discreetly followed her all day long). Wallace’s cleverly written ode is well complemented by Yum’s (Grandpa Across the Ocean, rev. 7/21) familiar colored-pencil art in which the girl’s big feelings are conveyed through exaggerated facial expressions and the extreme body language of a young drama queen (down on one knee, weeping in the store; an actual face-plant into her plate of spaghetti). While good at complaining, this girl is also unexpectedly good at turning things around (so far, she’s seemed as inflexible as her stiff pink tutu). As she’s tucked into bed, she philosophically notes that “a better day is on its way”—one in which “lines are led by me,” “pudding’s all I eat,” and “chores feel like a ride.” Not a bad ending to a full-on bad day.

From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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