Book Review: A Day’s Work

Rating: ★★★★★

On Saturday morning, young Francisco waits with his abuelo (grandfather) with other day laborers, hoping for a day’s work.  In order to persuade a potential employer to choose them, Francisco claims his grandfather is a gardener, even though he is actually a carpenter.  It is only at the end of the day that the lie is found out.  Then Abuelo shows Francisco the value of integrity, admonishing, “We do not lie for work,” and taking steps to make restitution.

Bunting’s understated text, written from the child’s perspective, expresses the raw desperation that the most poverty-stricken people experience daily, helping the reader understand why Francisco would tell such a lie.  But his grandfather’s personal honor proves that, regardless of circumstances, even the lowest labor carries dignity and worth when it is carried out with self-respect.

This is a serious story, and even illustrated with Himler’s wonderful paintings it retains a somber mood that might not draw readers in as easily as more lighthearted books.  But it provides a vital, sympathetic glimpse into the world of immigrant day laborers while demonstrating the moral importance of honesty.  It’s a beautifully moving book which will help cultivate compassion for others.

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Publication Information: Bunting, Eve. Day's Work, A. Himler, Ronald (Illustrator). Clarion. 1994. ISBN: 0395845181.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on July 17, 2010

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