Reviews for The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

Publishers Weekly
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Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming) imagines being "an only" in the classroom-what it's like to be the only one with an accent ("No one understands the way words curl from your mouth"), the only one who stayed home during summer vacation ("What good is this/ when other students were flying/ and sailing"), the only one whose lunch box is filled with food "too strange or too unfamiliar for others to love as you do." Without prescribing sympathy, Woodson's poetic lines give power to each child's experience. She describes the moment when the girl who didn't go on vacation speaks her truth, her "voice stronger than it was a minute ago." She has cared for her sister all summer, she tells her classmates, reading and telling stories: "Even though we were right on our block it was like/ we got to go EVERYWHERE." And "all at once" in the seconds after sharing one's story, something shifts, common ground is revealed, and "the world opens itself up a little wider/ to make some space for you." López (Drum Dream Girl) paints the book's array of children as students in the same classroom; patterns and colors on the children's clothing and the growing things around them fill the spreads with life. Woodson's gentle, lilting story and López's artistry create a stirring portrait of the courage it takes to be oneself: "There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you until the day you begin/ to share your stories." Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Kathleen Nishimoto, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator's agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
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K-Gr 2-A beautiful and inclusive story that encourages children to find the beauty in their own lives and share it with the world. A young girl with brown skin and curly black hair stays home through the summer to watch over her younger sister while her classmates travel to distant lands. A young boy from Venezuela arrives in his new school and finds the children in his class do not speak his language. Another child brings a lunch that her classmates find too strange while another isn't physically able to keep up with the play of other children. Each child feels very alone until they begin to share their stories and discover that it is nearly always possible to find someone a little like you. López's vibrant illustrations bring the characters' hidden and unspoken thoughts to light with fantastic, swirling color. Shifting hues and textures across the page convey their deep loneliness and then slowly transition into bright hopeful possibilities. Full-bleed illustrations on every page are thick with collaged patterns and textures that pair perfectly with melodic prose that begs to be read aloud. Though the story focuses on four singular experiences, there's an essential acknowledgment that everyone will experience a time when no one is quite like them, when they can't find their voice, or when they feel very alone. Woodson's superlative text sees each character turns that moment of desolation into an opportunity to be brave and find hope in what they have in common. VERDICT This masterful story deserves a place in every library.-Laken Hottle, Providence Community Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.