Thursday, February 16, 2023

PW review


Ode to a Bad Day

Chelsea Lin Wallace, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Chronicle, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-79721-080-3

Rather than glorifying a specific topic, these odes narrated by a schoolchild bewail myriad small annoyances that can accompany a bad day. In early lines by Wallace (A Home Named Walter), even the morning’s first moments presage trouble: “Oh Bad Morning,/ eyes are crusty, bones are rusty./ Why do all my teeth feel dusty?” Watercolor and colored pencil spreads from Yum (Luli and the Language of Tea) show the child, portrayed with light skin and black hair, frowning amid snarled-up bedclothes. The room’s stuffed animals, together with a visiting cricket, give the child a collective side-eye. Brilliant pinks and oranges offer heightened energy to Yum’s consistently engaging spreads, while sensory-focused lines list the indignities of the day: someone cutting in the racially diverse classroom’s line, a missing pudding cup at lunch, a spoiled art project, and more. Each individual annoyance may seem small on its own (“Oh Hiccup,/ you interrupt hiccup/ my play with Nick hiccup”), but the cumulative irritations make the day a total write-off—though not without some reflection (“I’m so annoyed.../ but not destroyed”) and the promise of a better tomorrow. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer RofĂ©, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary. (Apr.)

Review from BCCB

 Trade ed. ISBN 9781797210803$16.99

Reviewed from digital galleysR4-7 yrs

A morning of soggy cereal and itchy clothes is just the start of our pouty protagonist’s misery, and the day doesn’t get much brighter from there. The youngster laments their troubles as a hurried rush to school results in a skinned knee, a case of the hiccups interrupts playtime, and a missing pudding cup ruins lunch. An afternoon errand trip makes for some especially dramatic woes: “Oh, Boredom,/ I thought you’d left. Bye-bye. Shoo-shoo!/ You’re back again with more nothing to do./ A chore at the store?/ I fall to the floor!/ Snorrrrrrrrrre.” Kiddo makes it through a yucky dinner and the ever-arduous bedtime prep, ending the day with a snuggle with their caretaker and a hope that perhaps tomorrow will be better. The poetic structure and regal cadence lend the child’s voice a sense of polite formality, bringing ironic humor to her bad day histrionics, but the joke does not necessarily come at the youngster’s expense. Rather, repetitive address of the day’s various disappointments (“Oh you Ouchy,” “Oh you Hiccup”) acknowledges the plain old awfulness of the situation. Illustrations have a childlike draftsmanship, with dot-eyed faces and scribbly linework in colored pencil and watercolor, and the misery of our put-upon protagonist, with a constant frown and occasional wide-mouthed moan, is cleverly matched with bits of visual humor, including an expressive little cricket that follows the child through their travails. The book ends with hard-earned wisdom that even adults could use: “All day long/ my way went wrong./ I’m annoyed . . . / but not destroyed.”  KQG

Monday, February 6, 2023

Ode to A Bad Day



This is one bad day readers won’t mind reliving again and again.


It’s only fitting that a day this bad gets its own lyrical poem.

“Oh you Bad Morning.” Right from the start, a child who presents as Asian with straight black hair, peachy skin, and dots for eyes can tell it’s going to be a bad day. On most double-page spreads, rhyming lines in irregular meter convey the sensibility and grandeur of the traditional ode, glorifying a different aspect of the bad day. The verso describes the outrage (“Oh Too Much Milk in My Cereal, / soggy, squishy! Boggy, mushy! / You turned my crispy into gushy!”), while the recto declaims the lament (“Oh you Too Much Milk”). It is impressive how many despairing, outraged, and sad expressions Yum is able to give the young protagonist as the day progresses through each indignity, including itchy clothes, being late, dealing with a line cutter, and getting the hiccups. One particularly poignant illustration sees the child prone on the floor of a supermarket with one knee raised: “Oh you Boredom.” Not every rhyme is perfect, but the overall sentiment comes through loud and clear, and Yum’s soft watercolor and colored pencil artwork is a wonderful foil for the negative feelings. This is especially true as the day draws to a close, a new day is within sight, and more hopeful thoughts take over. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This is one bad day readers won’t mind reliving again and again. (Picture book. 4-8)