Book: One Special Day (A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters)
Author: Lola M. Schafer
Illustrator: Jessica Meserve
Age Range: 2 to 5
One Special Day (A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters) is a lush picture book for younger readers. Spencer and his grandma watch a car (presumably bearing his parents) drive off. Subsequent page spreads show Spencer glorying in being outside, running and jumping and climbing. Lola Schafer's minimal text and Jessica Meserve's illustrations together compare Spencer to various animals. Like this:
"He was fast--" (with a picture of Spencer running)
"fast as a" (on the next page, with a picture of a horse racing with the small boy)
Schafer leaves young readers to fill in for themselves what kind of animal it is (always quite clear from the illustrations). Because the first and second part of each segment are on separate pages, parents can also encourage kids to guess what the next animal will be. When I see "He was tall--" (with a picture of Spencer using a ladder to climb a tree), I can ask: "Tall as a what?", for example.
Only at the very end of the book, "one special day", is Spencer quiet and gentle, as his parents return with a baby sibling. It's a little sentimental, sure. But I personally found it moving, and (digging into my own long-ago memories as an older sibling) accurate.
Meserve's digital oil pastel illustrations are perfect for the book, with strong lines depicting Spencer and the animals against nature-filled backgrounds. Spencer is, as promised at the start of the book, all boy, playing cheerfully in the mud, and marking his face like a tiger. But the quiet, waiting Spencer is clean and at peace. And adorable.
The animal comparisons and outdoor-focused illustrations alone make One Special Day an engaging read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers. The emotional payoff regarding the arrival of a new sibling makes this a must-purchase title for libraries, and a perfect gift for soon-to-be big brothers or sisters. Highly recommended. A delight from start to finish.
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Source of Book: Purchased for Round 2 judging in Fiction Picture Books for Cybils. This book was a finalist, but not the winner.
© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).