cover image The Golden Day

The Golden Day

Ursula Dubosarsky. Candlewick, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6399-5

Blending mystery with coming-of-age themes, Dubosarsky’s novel, set in 1967 at an Australian all-girls school, explores a class’s response to the unexplained disappearance of their teacher. Miss Renshaw, lover of poetry and hater of capital punishment, takes her group of 11 “little girls” on a field trip to visit a public memorial garden and “think about death.” There they meet an odd groundskeeper named Morgan, who leads them into a cave to see ancient Aboriginal paintings. The girls exit safely, but Miss Renshaw and Morgan do not reappear, and the girls return to school as the tide sweeps in. The incident, later reported to authorities, bonds the girls as each faces bewilderment, guilt, and grief when it becomes clear their teacher will not likely return. Dubosarsky (The Word Snoop) subtly shows the impact of the tragedy through fragments of conversations, observations, and memories, while expertly sketching a cast of vulnerable, inquisitive children and ridiculous authority figures. Laced with humor amid a steady feeling of dread, the atmospheric narrative chillingly evokes lurking forces capable of tarnishing even the most golden and innocent of days. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)