cover image A Day's Work

A Day's Work

Eve Bunting. Clarion Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-67321-8

Francisco, trying to find work for his grandfather, or abuelo, who has just arrived from Mexico, acts as a liaison between Abuelo, who doesn't speak English, and Ben, who wants to hire a gardener for a day's work. Eager to earn the badly needed pay, Francisco assures Ben that his grandfather is a skilled gardener (Abuelo is in fact a carpenter). Returning at the end of the day, Ben is shocked to discover that Francisco and Abuelo stripped his field of the plants and left the weeds. Abuelo is also angered, learning only now that Francisco had lied to Ben, and refuses payment until they have done the job correctly. Recognizing the older man's integrity, Ben rewards Abuelo and Francisco with the promise of ``more than just one day's work.'' Says Ben of the plants: ``The roots are still there. If they've replanted early, they'll be alright.'' Similarly, Francisco is given a chance to start over. He changes from a naively parental figure to a child who ``had begun to learn the important things.'' The shift in the boy's role quietly suggests not only the importance of a work ethic but also Francisco's need to be a child, guided by a caring adult. With expressive, gestural watercolors, Himler, who illustrated Bunting's Fly Away Home and Someday a Tree, conveys the boy's complex relationship with his grandfather and strongly invokes both the harsh and the tender landscapes of Francisco's world. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)