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A New Green Day

A New Green Day

Published: 2 Jul 2020

Hardback, 40 pages

Recommended for age 3+

By Antoinette Portis

Illustrated by Antoinette Portis

Published by Scallywag Press

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It's the beginning of a new day, and through a series of enticing riddles, nature invites a little girl to come out and explore. Who scribbles on the sidewalk with glistening ink? Snail! Who's a comma in a long, long sentence of a stream? Tadpole!

Active readers will delight in the clever language and striking illustrations. With each page turn, children will solve the riddles about the familiar animals, plants and the weather that the girl in the story encounters outdoors throughout a whole day.

Winner of the English Association Picture Book Awards 2021, non-fiction 4-7 Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 

Reviewed by Mary Roche

A New Green Day is another beautiful picturebook from award-winning writer-illustrator, Antoinette Portis, author of ‘Hey, Water!’ It seems simple and playful. And it is. But there are clever riddles on each spread that encourage us to turn the pages. Aimed at children up to age seven, it will engage even the youngest child. The text is lyrical and poetic; the illustrations are a beautiful mixture of ink, stamps, leaf prints, charcoal, and brushwork, all rendered in a range of earthy tones.

The cover image shows us a little girl, with flying black pigtails, running joyfully barefoot across a green field. She is framed by green leaves. As she heads to the right-hand side of the cover, we are compelled to turn the page. The endpapers are a restful dark green with horizontal slashes of a lighter shade, like dappled sunshine in a wood. The front matter features a cricket and leaf prints and, like the cover and endpapers, provides hints that the book is to do with the natural world. The opening spread shows us the first riddle. It is placed carefully on a square of golden paint: “Morning lays me on your pillow, an invitation, square and warm. Come out to play!” We turn the page to see who is speaking. It is sunlight.

The book continues in this fashion, asking beautifully worded questions on the recto of each spread that are only answered by turning the page. Over the course of a summer’s day, our attention is drawn, like a small child’s, to the wonders that exist all around us, if we only care to look. Sunshine, snails, leaves, tadpoles are all included in our gaze, as is a magnificent rainstorm. Parents and teachers using this book will be reminded that the natural world is full of invitation. As adults, we have a responsibility to ensure that children have opportunities to appreciate the natural beauty of the world. From the humblest creatures to the grandest star-filled skies, our world is full of wonder. Everything matters. Portis reminds us that nature is not for passive viewing. A New Green Day is to be enjoyed and cherished.

Dr Mary Roche is an education consultant. Passionate about the importance of dialogical pedagogy, literacy and children’s books in education, she is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker in Ireland and the UK. A former education lecturer and classroom teacher, Mary is the author of ‘Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picturebooks’ (Routledge 2015). A bookworm, she is at her happiest when immersed in good children’s literature.