A Day's Work written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler is a book with a message, but it is delivered in such a way, that you want to hug this book. The artwork alone is worth the purchase price. The lexile of this storybook is 350, but the message in this book is good for all ages.
Published in 1994, Bunting's story tells of a Mexican American boy, Francisco, who is trying to help his non English speaking grandfather find work for the day.
Francisco tells the employer that his grandfather knows all about gardening and landscaping, but this is not true. His grandfather is a carpenter and knows nothing about plants and gardening. Francisco is so excited that they will earn sixty dollars for their day of work and be able to buy good food. He is excited to let his mama know that they worked hard but helped the family.
Unfortunately, instead of weeding the area, they pull up all the flowers and leave the weeds because neither of them knows which is which. The employer, Ben, is very angry.
Francisco tells his grandfather why Ben is so angry, and the grandfather angrily tells Francisco, "We do not lie for work."
The grandfather is sad and says, "Ah, my grandson. Ask him what we can do. Tell him will come back tomorrow, if he agrees. We will pull out the weeds and put the good plants back."
Francisco tells his grandfather that tomorrow is Sunday, and there is church and a Lakers game on television.
"We will miss them both, then. It is the price of the lie. Tell the gentleman what I said and ask him if the plants will live."
Ben offers to pay them half for today if they need the money,but the grandfather says, "No." He will not take the money until he has fixed the mistake. Ben says, "Tell your grandfather I can always use a good man - for more than just one day's work. The important things your grandfather knows already. And I can teach him gardening."
I like that the message of this book is not too didactic. It allows the reader to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Francisco's family needed the work, so I can see why he told Ben they could do the work. Even though Ben was upset, he was a good man and gave them another chance.
There are many lessons in this book about human nature.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.