Days Like This
Days Like This
It’s not every day that you get to see the sun rise.
It’s not every day that you end up at the foot of a hill or on a mountaintop.
… But one thing is for certain …
It’s not every day that I get to meet someone like you.
Montrealer Oriane Smith’s 17-line poem about an average day is printed at the beginning of this picture book, and each line is then printed twice, in different colours, on opposing pages, as the pages progress. France’s Alice Gravier’s pretty illustrations show different perspectives of the same ordinary scenes, from ground level and high up, inside and outside, close and far away, etc.
On the last page, the poem and the pictures converge, leading the reader to discover that the same world has been seen through different eyes, those of a boy and those of a squirrel who both inhabit the same space. The purported use of the book is to teach dueling perspectives of life and intersecting storylines, to teach acceptance and sensitivity to others.
Smith’s poem is about an average day. She invokes quiet, pleasant images (“strawberry mornings, chocolate afternoons”), but they lack a magic quality. The poem doesn’t have a notable metre or rhyming scheme, a bounce and fun that would make a young child relate the words to images that can make an average (even a boring) day special.
Gravier’s images are skillfully done, bright, accurate, detailed and interesting to study. Her pictures show the same world from the bottom of a tree trunk and from the tops of the leaves, from inside a house or from the outside looking in. But many of the perspectives are not so different from one another, as exemplified by the “foot of a hill” which shows the close-up of a mountain and, on the opposite page, a mound or hill. A young reader will not easily be able to figure out that these are the way two sentient beings see the same scene. Similarly, it takes some patience to understand that the “strawberry mornings” are two different viewpoints.
Although well-intentioned, Days Like This will require an adult to explain much of it to a child. JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers, among many other books, has a more compelling storyline, one which children will be able to discern independently. Days Like This can be an adjunct, but it is not an important purchase for a unit on perspective, diversity or inclusion. The pictures can provide a positive example in teaching accuracy and use of colour in art.
Harriet Zaidman is a children’s and freelance writer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her latest young adult novel, Second Chances, is set during the polio epidemics of the 1950s.