reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

A(nother) Good Day, by Kevin Henkes


A Good Day by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2007) begins like this:

“It was a bad day….”

Here at the Picture Book House, it wasn’t exactly a “bad day,” but…

My cat decided to use my kid’s “sensory bin” full of 15 pounds of rice I had dyed six different colors as a litter box.

My daughter refused to nap.

My son’s seemingly perpetual cold reared up at dinner, and we couldn’t tell if the green on his face was guacamole or snot.

Today, I felt a bit like the characters in A Good Day who begin the story having a bad day.

I felt like, “Little yellow bird,” who, “lost his favorite tail feather.” The white dog who got his leash tangled, the lost orange fox, and the, “little brown squirrel,” who, “dropped her nut.”

Henkes writes, “But then…”

We made a new sensory bin, and my son enjoyed stomping on the zip-lock baggie full of rice and vinegar and red and yellow food coloring while my daughter delighted that this stomping was making orange.

My Dad came over and we all went to the library. There is no such thing as overtired, crabby kids when Bubba is around.

And, well, unfortunately I can’t think of a way to Pollyanna the guacamole/snot issue…

But Kevin Henkes does turn our animal friends’ bad days into good days.

For example, “Little Brown squirrel found the biggest nut ever,” and, “Little orange fox turned around, and there was his mother.”

And then, “…there’s more…”

“A little girl spotted a perfect yellow feather, picked it up, tucked it behind her ear, and ran to her mother, shouting, ‘Mama! What a good day!’”

A Good Day is now one of my favorite Henkes books, right up there with Chrysanthemum, Kitten’s First Full Moon, and Oh!

How did it take me so long to find it? I’ve been drawn to the cover for years, and today at the library we finally checked it out.

After the library Bubba stayed for dinner, and after dinner we sat down with my daughter to read our new books.

“But Bubba hasn’t heard Railroad Hank!” my daughter yelled. “I’ll go get it!”

Now I’ll read Railroad Hank for breakfast, lunch and after dinner, but Bubba had heard the story and I was anxious to give A Good Day a try.

To derail her, I opened A Good Day and read, loudly, from across the room: “It was a bad day….”

My daughter froze, pivoted and zipped back to me, eyes wide. “Why was it a bad day?” she practically gasped.

From this very first line she was hooked—deeply engaged in this simple, true and delightful picture book about how to turn a bad day into a good day.

We finished the book by looking for each of our animal friends, all pictured somewhere on the last page.

“Again!” my daughter said.

“Ok!” I answered.

Reading A Good Day was a good way to end what really was, if I thought about right, not a bad day at all.

PBH Rating: Read it Again, Mommy!

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