The Day You Begin by J. Woodson

  • Danielle Ford


Woodson, Jacqueline. The Day You Begin. Illustrated by Rafael López, Penguin Random House, 2018.

Inspired by a poem in her award-winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, the Brooklyn based author Jacqueline Woodson wrote The Day You Begin about the moments in a child’s life when s/he feels like an outsider.  Throughout the pages, the reader goes on a journey through the eyes of various children and their experiences feeling like outsiders. The children discover that the moment you bravely reach out you will find that “every new friend has something a little like you—and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.” Written in beautifully poetic text that is perfectly portrayed through the illustrations, this picture book speaks of hope and human connection in the face of fear, a concept easily connected to by all. 

Rafael Lopez creates beautiful illustrations to inspire imagination and conjure up the precious richness of our differences. Pages filled with vibrant images of flowers and nature are used to represent the child’s unique qualities spoken of in the text. In contrast, dull colours and minimal images express feelings of difference.  The highly relatable experience of trying to measure up is illustrated on some of the pages through the presence of a ruler. Adults and children of all ages will be able to connect in some way with the characters on the page.

Overall, this is a beautifully written book that can be used to discuss the vibrancy we can find in our communities when we cherish our differences and share of ourselves, if only we would begin. 

Highly Recommended:  4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer:  Danielle Ford

Danielle is an avid reader of all kinds of books. Currently in her last semester of her Bachelor of Education as an Elementary Generalist, she is looking forward to bringing rich children’s literature into her classroom.

How to Cite
FordD. (2019). The Day You Begin by J. Woodson. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 8(4).
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