Daniel’s Good Day

By Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019. 32 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 2–4.

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“What makes a good day for you?” Daniel, a very young boy, is on a mission. He wants to know why everyone always says, “Have a good day.” In this charming picture book, he finds many answers.

Walking from his home to Grandma’s house in the green, city neighborhood, he asks everyone he meets, “What makes a good day for you?” The house painter replies, “When skies are clear so I can paint.” His friend the gardener answers, “Bees on flowers.” The newsstand seller says, “Busy sidewalks and friendly faces.” When he arrives at Grandma’s house, she has a ready answer: “A hug from you makes my day good!”

In the afternoon, Daniel and his grandmother walk back along the same route to return to his home. He notices that good things are happening along the way. Emma has found enough wind for her kite; the baker and bus driver are smiling. The nanny is watching over her sleeping babies in the park.

When Mom asks Daniel, “How was your day?” he has a long list of answers. Then she says, “How about some ice cream on your good day, Daniel?” The last page shows the family sharing a big hug.

This is not a problem story. Everyone Daniel meets returns his cheerful greeting with a ready answer. No one is annoyed, angry, or dismissive. Daniel is accepted, even affirmed, as grownups and older children answer his question. Daniel is doing research.

Micha Archer has illustrated her book with collages made from torn bits of tissue paper layered over colored paper, and on the page depicting a newsstand she uses cutouts from newspapers and magazines. The verdant landscapes and the variety of ethnic representations lead one to suspect the author was thinking of California as she wrote. Illustrations and characters represent non-traditional gender roles. Several people are reading in the park. In the pictures, there are numbers and random letters to be found. Young children may find tiny surprises with a second or third look. Archer’s style reminds one of The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Daniel stars in another delightful book by Archer, Daniel Finds a Poem.

Daniel’s Good Day is a simple story for young children with messages of safety and affirmation at its heart. The importance of welcoming, responding to children as equal in value is—must be—practiced in Quaker meetings everywhere. The story evokes interesting reactions with its warm pictures and easy text. This book would be an excellent choice for First-day school.

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