Book review: ‘A New Day’


In his first children’s  book, “A New Day,” Brad Meltzer and Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat team up to share a powerful message of kindness and appreciation. Sunday, feeling very underappreciated, decides to quit. She no longer wants to give everyone else a free day to do whatever they want when she can’t do what she wants. The other days have no choice but to advertise for a replacement. But Sunday will be difficult to replace. Applicants must be relaxing, committed, and above all else, “Must be able to give people good dreams and get along with others!”    

Hilarity, and a lot of chaos, ensue as tryouts begin. There are some good suggestions, some really bad suggestions, and obvious favorites. What could possibly go wrong with CAAAAANDAAAAAY, a whole day to do nothing but eat candy? However, those in favor of Caturday believe this is their chance. In the end, it is due to one little girl’s gratitude that changes Sunday’s mind. A simple “To say thanks,” and an offering of a plant, ends the tryout catastrophe.

Known for his “Ordinary People Change the World” books with titles such as “I am Jane Goodall’’ and “I am Neil Armstrong,” Brad Meltzer chose the best theme for his first fiction children’s book. The world seems to be lacking kindness these days. Showing how one small act of kindness can encourage all the days to appreciate each other’s qualities might be what is needed. This book also fits the message of his other books that ordinary people can change the world. 

Meltzer combines narrative with speech bubbles to enhance the interaction between speaking characters giving a comic-like feel to the story. This is a perfect format for those who struggle following along with traditional narratives. With the addition of Santat’s bright and colorful illustrations, the reader gets the feeling of actually being in the audience of the “day tryouts.”

Santat’s illustrations also help emphasize the message of kindness and appreciation by replacing the chaotic backgrounds with a calming watercolor hue when Sunday is sharing her feelings. The reader can focus on the words of appreciation as Sunday tells the little girl “Thank you for saying thank you.” Then things become bright again in what appears to be rays of sunshine to introduce the final lesson; that when you appreciate each other a little bit more, every day can be a brand-new day where everything is possible. 

“A New Day” by Brad Meltzer is available in book format throughout the Lincoln County Library System. It is also available as an ebook or eaudiobook at linclib.org through Libby by OverDrive.

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