Free Fridays: Visiting Day

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Visiting Day, written by Jacqueline Woodson, is a fictional story about a young African American girl and her grandmother visiting the girl’s father in jail. The whole book radiates joy and excitement as the young girl and the grandmother cook food and get dressed to visit her father. I found this book enchanting and unique, as there are almost no children’s books written about this subject.

Woodson doesn’t disappoint in this book. Her words are very poetic, yet still understandable for young children. For example,

“And only on Visiting Day do I get to tell Daddy

everything that has happened over the month,

while I sit in his lap and he pulls on my braids,

smiling his big

me-and-Grandma-have-been-gone-forever smile,

laughing his big laugh,

showing me and Grandma off to his friends,

pressing peppermints into my hand

and kisses against

Grandma’s cheek.”

The words are more descriptive rather than narrative, and it adds more of a reflecting, thoughtful quality to the book.

“Grandma says it’s not forever going to be like this.”

The illustrations are fantastic. Each two-page spread is covered in a vividly painted illustration, and the illustrator has painted the characters and the scene to look very realistic. I agree wholeheartedly with the illustrator’s decision to use realistic depictions of the characters, as cartoon-like style would have made the book seem less real for the readers. I loved how some of the pages did not have any words at all, just a wonderfully detailed illustration.

This is the first picture book that I have read about having a family member in jail. It is wonderful that an author as well known as Jacqueline Woodson has written a poetic and heartfelt book about this subject. Children everywhere have family members in jail, and this book provides a great mirror for these children. The book is also about a young girl who lives with her grandmother, a family structure that we also do not see very often. Overall this book is a wonderfully well-written and illustrated contribution to children’s literature.

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