cover image Today Is the Day

Today Is the Day

Nancy Riecken. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-73917-4

""Today is the day! Papa's coming home today!"" rejoices Yesenia, dancing with the chicks in the yard in her excitement. She and her older sister, Yara, and their mother had said good-bye to Papa six months earlier; a drought dried up the fields in their Mexican village, and so Papa went up north to find a job. Yara, remembering other fathers who have left the village and never come back, refuses to hope for her father's return. Yesenia, on the other hand, meets every bus from the city, her optimism turning to despair just before the happy ending. Although her text is predictable and a bit wordy, Riecken (Andrew's Own Place) exposes youngsters to a heartrending scenario that is a very real part of life in rural areas throughout the world. Stock's watercolor art, somewhat stiffer and less polished here than in such previous works as Tap-Tap and Nellie Bly's Monkey, mirrors the somber tone of the story with her palette, from the bleached colors of the arid fields to the gray-blue shades of the shadowy dusk. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)