Some days are just rough. Like when it is pouring rain at an inopportune time, or you are having an unfortunately bad hair day, or your stature and looks just aren’t helping you socially. Thankfully, there are books like this one that are perfect for every day, and especially that not so great day. Not only should the bright yellow cover bring a smile to your face; but the clever animals, wildly imaginative moments and popping colors will leave you feeling just a little bit better about the world and yourself. Come along and see what it would be like to be all sorts of animals and insects For Just One Day by Laura Leuck, illustrated by Marc Boutavant, 2009.
First things first, please admire the end papers of this great book. It gives you a tiny peak at the amazing illustrator’s work that is coming, and also the delights that the story will hold. Boutavant’s characters’ eyes are my favorite.
This book celebrates the glory of pretending. A handful of big-eyed characters long to be a certain admired animal, if only for just one day. Maybe it is just because that animal is so awesome. Or perhaps it is to solve a specific life problem. For just one day, being that animal would be excellent.
This is one of my all-time favorite read-aloud books. The phrasing is in rhyme and each page turn guides to the animal that finishes that character’s rhyme. The first page opens:
“For just one day, I’d like to be
a busy, buzzing bumble-…”
And with the page turn, you finish the rhyme and hear a following statement about the wonders of being that bee.
The clever listener will easily pick up almost every animal, although the choices will occasionally keep you on your toes. We read this at storytime a few months ago and one little boy eagerly finished the rhyme about wanting to sail across the sea and be a… pirate! His enthusiasm was marvelous and everyone laughed and cheered even as we turned the page and admired the gigantic whale.
This book is a delight in the stunning illustrations and in message. For most of the pages, the underlying theme about self-esteem and being awesome as you are, is very nicely subtle. It is much stronger in the end when we finish the rhyme about being that special someone that is… “me” and turn the page to discover one of those slightly distorted (and odd) mirrors. I get it and the really little kids love it, but I always find myself wishing that it was just a spread of all those framed kiddos being their adorable quirky selves that you see on the opposite page.
Tiny dislike aside, I always smile when I grab this book off the shelf. Laura Leuck’s rhymes roll perfectly off the tongue and I’m a huge fan of books with climactic page turns. She really does a great job with the gentleness of the message and the outstanding setup of fun with pretending.
My real love of this book however, is of course, the illustrations. Marc Boutavant is one of those illustrators that I excitedly leap for their books. Here he combines digital illustrations full of humor and extravagant color, with some fun hand-lettering for the animal names. I especially adore how each setup page is mainly white with spare color, and the animal pretend page is abounding in a solid color with lots of other pops. His work is fun, quirky, and lovable every time.
I hope this book helped your day be more colorful and perhaps you’ll even stop and take a moment to imagine what it would be like to be something completely different for just one day. My kid-self would have always chosen a Siberian tiger and that sounds pretty grand to me.