A Wonderful Day! is a simple story of a parent and child going to the zoo. This book by Michael Samulak has a completely different appearance from his first. It is in the landscape format and uses pencil crayon and watercolor illustrations. Text is on one side of the page and the illustration is on the other.
During the story we are not told if it is a son or daughter and a mother or father who are going on the adventure together. I’m sure this is done deliberately in order to make the book relatable to any reader. The first page of text says, “Good morning, love! Rise and shine. How did you sleep? Do you remember what we are going to do today?” The accompanying illustration is of the front door and veranda of the simple two-story house. I don’t think that is something a reader can connect with. I really would have liked to see a sleepy eyed child, gender could be interpreted either way, rubbing his or her eyes, smiling, or leaping out of bed. The first illustration should link to the rest of the book and picture of the outside of the house really doesn’t. The rest of the illustrations are of animals or crowds so once again we feel a little distant. Near the end, however, when the text reads, “What a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing it with me. I will remember this day as long as I live!” We see the hands of the parent tucking in a brown-haired child with a teddy bear on the bed beside him or her.
On the animal pages, the text gives us a simple observation such as, “Look! There are the tigers and lions. They are so quiet and strong.” A picture of a smiling seated lion and a standing smiling tiger accompany these words. Nowhere in the book do we see cages, bars, or canopies. The closest it comes to reality are tiny circular concrete walls that enclose the elephants, giraffes, and penguins (who somehow have ice in their enclosure in the middle of an open area of the zoo.)
This is a lovely little story of a special moment between parent and child. In the past, I loved the zoo as well. I’m not sure at what age you need to introduce the reality of the small enclosures and loss of freedom for the animals. (Never mind the horrific circumstances under which these animals were captured.) I don’t want to get off on a tangent. Indeed, I’ve used zoo pictures in my own work. It’s a topic, however, that needs to be addressed at some point with children. When you consider the feeling this book gives the reader compared to the exceptionally beautiful first book (A is for Africa) where the author featured free African animals, there is a note of sadness that taints an otherwise happy little book. If you have no mixed feelings about the zoo, then this book will probably be pure pleasure.
Putting that aside, the text has a melodious, gentle tone almost like a lullaby. I like the way the text encourages conversation by stimulating a child to consider a question or concept. For example, “What animals do you think we will see first at the zoo?” Or “Wow! That must be the tall giraffe. I wonder how they drink with such long necks.”
The last page sweetly reads, “Good night. Sleep tight. Never forget that you are loved.”
This book would be enjoyed by children aged 2 to 5.
A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.
Older books for your child.
The author was interviewed on this blog January 11, 2017.