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Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001
"It's a screaming kind of day. I can tell the minute I open my eyes--- Leo's inches from my nose, making that cross-eyed, twisty-mouth face."In Scully's world, her brother Leo's teasing and Mom's scolding can be turned off by a quick yank of the hearing aids from her ears. Sibling squabbles and the boredom of a rainy day make Scully's life difficult, but she tackles her problems head on. It is little wonder that the text of A Screaming Kind of Day won the 1999 Governor General's Award for Children's Literature. Rachel Gilmore's sensitive and insightful portrayal of her little hearing-impaired narrator is completely captivating. Scully's story is one with which many families will be able to identify. Parents lose patience in their attempt to keep peace between siblings as they tease, provoke and retaliate, but, at the end of a trying day, love triumphs and brings peace to the family. In a flawless rendition of Scully's voice, Gilmore convinces the reader that different though Scully is, her experience and behaviour are universal. Her moving story avoids the sentimentality or didacticism that so often spoils books involving a child with special. needs. Whatever lessons are to be learned from A Screaming Kind of Day, Rachna Gilmore trusts her readers to draw them from the simple lyrical prose she has created to represent Scully's thoughts.
Rachna Gilmore has written more than a dozen picture books, as well as two novels for children and a series of Early Readers. In A Friend Like Zilla (1995), nominated for the Silver Birch and the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice awards, she showed a similar lack of sentimentality and preachiness as she tackled the theme of attitudes toward developmentally handicapped young people.
Gordon Sauve is a gifted artist whose acrylic high-realistic paintings are irresistible. He is particularly clever at portraying faces. The expressions on Scully's face, from misery to mischief to exhilaration, are a joy to behold. The illustrations are a perfect complement to this beautifully told story. A Screaming Kind of Day will make a wonderful read-aloud and springboard for discussion with primary students. It is a not-to-be-missed picture book for all elementary libraries.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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