Title: Sunny Days
Author: Jesse Byrd
Children’s literature has changed significantly since the days of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales or nursery rhyme picture books from Mother Goose. Many authors have found a way to increase children’s awareness of current issues in an appropriate manner, ensuring that the books are not only educational and readable but relevant as well.
Sunny Days is a book that does exactly that. It tells the story of Martine, a little girl who loves her neighborhood and everyone in it with a passion. Every day, she takes a little tour of her favorite stops on her way to school, especially the grocery shop owned by Mr. Johnny, which sells peaches so big she needs both hands to hold them.
One day a storm hits Martine’s town and she has to watch the devastation it wrought on her neighborhood and how much it affects everyone. Wanting to make a difference, she helps where she can and even comes up with an ingenious idea to not only make everyone feel better, but to help them appreciate the sunny days more.
This is a lighthearted tale that is coupled with colorful and eye-catching illustrations sure to captivate kids everywhere. The author uses simple words and sentence structure to make the story easy for children to follow, while still respecting their intelligence. The artistry of the accompanying pictures will capture the reader’s attention and will stay with them beyond when they’re finished.
This book is relevant in a way that is often missing from children’s books. The main characters are quite diverse; however, the message of integration and building a sense of community regardless of any perceived differences is subtly, but effectively, woven into the tale.
It’s also a reminder to children and adults alike that there’s always a potential to build something beautiful out of any wreckage, and this is a reason to never give up no matter how bad things may seem. It will remind children of the value of being resilient and what can be achieved if people work together.
The premise of the story–that of Martine’s clever idea after the storm–was not given enough prominence given that it was meant to be the highlight of the tale. It was a very creative idea that would have stimulated younger children’s imagination if it had been given more airtime, but it was somehow forgotten.
Martine’s family could have also been involved more, to reinforce the idea that community begins at home. Her parents were mentioned very briefly, when there was room for them to play a more central role.
This book will bring a smile to the faces of kids and parents alike. A heartwarming plot, memorable characters, and an endearingly precocious lead, all set against a background of bursting colors, combine to capture the essence of perseverance. This book is a beautiful celebration of strength, hope, and caring for your fellow man and a very welcome addition to the genre of children’s literature.
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