“Juxtaposing life and death, this stunningly illustrated book lacks general interest. ”
Lightheartedly opening on an ordinary day on a neighborhood street, two children play, one woman cares for her garden, and a crow noisily disapproves of all their actions. Then two cars pull up to the two quiet houses across the street, and doctors step out to knock on the respective doorsteps. As they enter into the two different homes, one doctor cares for a sick golden retriever (the pet of a non-traditional family with two women as the parents) and the other doctor cares for and provides a home delivery for a pregnant woman (traditional family with a father who has a cochlear implant). The text and illustrations for each house’s story are set side by side throughout the book, comparing the differences and similarities in each experience. All the while the neighborhood children and woman in her garden are oblivious to what’s going on behind closed doors, leaving the reminder that other people are going through extraordinary things while others unknowingly going about their ordinary days. The stunning illustrations composed through a mix of techniques create a soft, lovely feel are a base of grayscale juxtaposed with muted additions of color, further displaying the effect of opposites the story and title present. Though on topic of the circle of life, this book isn’t necessarily helpful for coping with death, and the storyline itself isn’t of general interest.
An ordinary day in an ordinary neighborhood turns out to be quite extraordinary in this moving story about the circle of life.
It’s an average day in the neighborhood—children play, roses are watered, and a crow watches over it all. But then two visitors arrive at two houses, one to help a family say hello to a new baby and one to help a family say goodbye to a beloved pet. This sensitive picture book takes a gentle look at life, death, the bonds of family, and the extraordinary moments that make ordinary days so special.
The neighborhood children and woman caring for her garden are oblivious to the scenes inside the two houses across the street. How does this make you feel about how you should treat others, whose lives you might be unaware of?
The extraordinary things happening in this story were the death of the dog and the birth of a child. What extraordinary things have happened in your home?
Elana K. Arnold writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing/fiction from the University of California, Davis, where she has taught creative writing and adolescent literature. She is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and writers’ conferences. She is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels including the Printz Honor book Damsel and National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made of, as well as her picture books What Riley Wore and An Ordinary Day. Currently, Elana is the caretaker of seven pets, only two of which have fur. She lives in Huntington Beach, California.
Elizabet Vukovic received her BFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. She specializes in children’s book illustration, but enjoys experimenting with character design, concept art, fashion illustration, and decorative art. She currently resides in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
For Violet Becker, who arrived, and Alex Kuczynski, who went away
For Kiki, I’m sorry
“Emotions are clearly conveyed by the appealing characters, who are rendered in a simplified graphic style.”
“Profound in the way it underscores how “life-changing” events are happening all the time—even as regular life continues—this book is especially effective at communicating big, difficult concepts to children in terms they will understand, despite—or, perhaps, because of—being quiet and understated.”