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Your First Adventure
Hau eguna (Basque)
Quin dia! (Catalan)
Vaya día (Spanish)
What a nice gamebook! While the books in the Your First Adventure series are, by design, possibly the simplest interactive stories ever published, author Marcia Leonard doesn't use the books' brevity as an excuse to skimp on quality content, and Little Kangaroo's Bad Day may be the best example of this. When one's day starts out badly, it can feel as if it is predestined to continue that way at least until the dawning of a new morning. Sometimes the day won't turn out as badly as we'd feared if we keep an upbeat attitude and refuse to let a lousy beginning define the rest of our day, but sometimes it does continue to go badly, no matter our attitude. Friends give us the cold shoulder, and our own mistakes trip us up and make us miserable. Even interactions with family can go sour if a few minor accidents pile up and push everyone close to the edge, tempers flaring as the plans of each individual in the family go awry.
When a day seems set on being bad, however, we still have a choice how we're going to handle it. Will we look for the bad in every situation that comes our way, certain nothing totally good is going to happen? Or will we remind ourselves that a bad morning can flip on its head in an instant and become a great afternoon or evening, that if we stay optimistic we can still find reasons to smile even in the midst of a cranky day? In looking back on all the bad things that caused the day to be a bad one, we might even find some humor in our angst, and one can't help but relax at least a little when laughing. Our choices to seek comfort in either family or friends may not make the difference in how our day ultimately turns out, but we do have the choice to allow ourselves to receive a reversal in fortune when it does eventually come our way. Sometimes, all we need is a little time for things to get better.
Besides the honest, thoughtful story written by Marcia Leonard, a significant mention must be made of Nancy Duell's artwork in Little Kangaroo's Bad Day. Her watercolors are luminous, some of the better illustrations I've seen in any picture book. The outdoors scenes are positively panoramic, giving a balanced sense of multiple events happening at the same time in the story, and how you as the grumpy kangaroo perceive them. One can't help but be impressed by the wide, full rendering of the family kitchen, or the beautiful sprawl of natural landscape as your family decides to go for a drive in the country. The liftable flaps do a good job hiding the actions to be revealed on the other side, adding to the feeling that there is even more than there actually is to the two branches of the story. Author and illustrator both deserve commendation for this book. I so wish Your First Adventure gamebooks were still being published, as Little Kangaroo's Bad Day in particular is a book a greater number of young readers should have the opportunity to experience.
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