Book Review: All in a Day
All in a Day is a throwback, no question. A simple storyline with gentle, poetic text, a limited color palate of black, blue, and yellow, and bold paper-cut illustrations all add up to a retro feel. In appearance, it looks like it could have fit in if it was published right alongside Marcia Brownâ€™s 1961 masterpiece Once a Mouse. For those reasons (as so often things that seem â€œold-fashionedâ€ tend to be) itâ€™s not a crowd-pleaser. All in a Day isnâ€™t a book kids will be begging their parents to buy. It is, however, a stunningly illustratedÂ book that deserves to be shared.
The theme here is living life to its fullest. The tone is one of wonderment. As the title implies, the storyline follows a dark-haired boy through one long, beautiful summer day in the country. Working in the garden, feeding the animals, playing games, taking a nap, exploring the wilderness â€“ itâ€™s a full day. The spare text is a rhyming poem that appears in small bursts on each two-page spread. It may not please all readers. The first time reading, I was one of them. I thought the text might tackle themes too difficult for children to wrap their heads around. Cynthia Rylant challenges the reader here, it it may be off-putting to some, but the illustrations lend a good dose of clarity.
Aside from enhancing the text, the artwork is just plain beautiful. Nikki McClure employs a time consuming cut-paper technique where every line on the page is interconnected. The colors are later added by computer. Each turn of the page brings a switch in the background color from blue to yellow. Itâ€™s the sort of art that takes on a whole new meaning when you consider how it was created. Look no further than the rainstorm scene â€“ it will have you wondering how McClure pulled it off. The childrenâ€™s lit blog A Fuse #8 Production recently mentioned All in a Day as a possible early Caldecott contender â€“ the illustrations absolutely merit that sort of discussion.
Now this isnâ€™t the kind of book that will jump up and down and declare its presence, slaying during read-aloud and wowing you with hipness or humor. But give it a chance. Quiet, beautiful books like this have a tendency to grow on readers.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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