November 29, 2015

Today is the Day

by Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 6-9
October, 2015 

That's Mutanu on the cover of Today is the Day, and she is bursting with joy because today really is the day.  It's the day that has been designated as her birthday and those of other orphans since their arrival at the orphanage in Kikima.  Like many children in rural Kenya, Mutanu's birthday was never noted or written down or celebrated.  But everything in her life has changed since she came to live at the orphanage, a real institution created by the Creation of Hope project.  Now that she has been there almost a year, she will be able to partake in the glorious celebration of their births.

Eric Walters and illustrator Eugenie Fernandes take the reader through Mutanu's regular day of chores–sweeping the yard, feeding the orphanage dog Rafiki, a new mother–and acknowledging the birth days of the new puppies and the new baby calf.  New lives at the orphanage–puppies, calves, kittens, kids, and lambs–are joyfully acknowledged by the girl whose new life began when her own grandmother had grown too old and frail to care for her after the child's parents died. But today, her grandmother and the numerous relatives of the children who live at the orphanage come to help the 150 children celebrate.  There are bags with gifts for each child, and party hats, and, most importantly for Mutanu, there is cake, many cakes, and the singing of the birthday song to themselves.  Mutanu's joy is boundless.

Just like the celebration in which all revel, Today is the Day is a celebration itself.  It celebrates the children who deserve to be recognized with a birthday and a birth certificate.  It celebrates the Creation of Hope project for the good work it does.  And it celebrates the hope and joy that Eric Walters and Eugenie Fernandes bring forth in their writing and artistic talents respectively.  Today is the Day is to be celebrated in so many ways.

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