Review of Water Day

Water Day Water Day
by Margarita Engle; illus. by Olivia Sua
Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.
8/23    9781665918718    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781665918725    $10.99
Spanish ed.  9781665926959    $18.99

“Water days are busy days, grateful, laughing, thirsty days.” A young girl tells of her Cuban neighborhood’s experience of the “water man’s” once-every-five-days visit to deliver water for all the residents’ needs. Engle’s narrator shares all parts of the process breezily, from the lyrical way Bisabuelita talks to her fruit trees, telling them “she’ll soon get their toes wet,” to less pleasant realities like having to wait “to flush the stinky toilet. Ick.” The “fish lady” bikes into town next and lets the girl add mosquito larvae–eating fish to the family’s water supply, helping to prevent the spread of disease. Sua’s painted cut-paper illustrations in a rich pastel color palette are as inviting as the girl’s cheerful voice, which grows somber when recounting Bisabuelita’s memories about how the neighborhood’s water has dried up since she was young. The book culminates with an image of the family using their replenished water and a line that sums up how this tightly knit group views water day: “a river of joy that flows for my whole thirsty familia.” Back matter includes an author’s note about Engle’s inspiration for the story, as well as information on the global water crisis and mosquitofish.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monica de los Reyes

Monica de los Reyes is editorial assistant for The Horn Book, Inc.

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