An Ordinary Day

Elana K. Arnold, illus. Elizabet Vukovic

Beach Lane Books, 2020

Plot Summary

An ordinary day in an ordinary neighborhood turns out to be quite extraordinary in this moving story about the circle of life.

It’s an average day in the neighborhood—children play, roses are watered, and a crow watches over it all. But then two visitors arrive at two houses, one to help a family say hello to a new baby and one to help a family say goodbye to a beloved pet. This sensitive picture book takes a gentle look at life, death, the bonds of family, and the extraordinary moments that make ordinary days so special.


  • Publishers Weekly (Dec. 12, 2019): “With enormous sensitivity, the creators weave together beginnings, endings, joy and sadness, and a metaphysical sense of the universe’s continuity.” (Starred review).

  • Booklist Online (Dec. 15, 2019): “Profound in the way it underscores how ‘life-changing’ events are happening all the time, even as regular life continues, this book is especially efective at communicating big, dificult concepts to children in terms they will understand, despite—or, perhaps, because of—being quiet and understated. Many will be moved by the artful book design and a thoughtfully simple text that delineate an extraordinary ordinary day.” (Starred review).

  • Kirkus (Dec. 8, 2019): “Commonalities abound between the two households despite their diferent compositions and experiences. In both, love and family are fully present as one life expires and a new one is born. Skilled, muted drawings, in charcoal, pencil, and watercolor and digitally rendered, depict a diverse neighborhood with mixed-race and nontraditional families. Emotions are clearly conveyed by the appealing characters, who are rendered in a simplified graphic style. The intimate interior events are juxtaposed with the unaware community members outside, who continue the rhythm of their ordinary day, until in one silent dark beat of the crow’s wings, the world shifts. [...] Powerfully demonstrates how small but monumental events can connect and change the world.”

  • School Library Journal (Feb. 1, 2020): “Arnold's gentle, poetic text highlights the remarkably similar rhythms that grief and happiness bring, while Vukovic's illustrations reinforce this with delicate and often symmetrical mixed-media illustrations. [ ] Emotionally afecting and beautifully told, this book deserves a place on most library shelves.”


Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Recommended Titles, 2021

Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2021


Response to Challenges

Author Elana K. Arnold, in response to a Central York school district “freezing” every book on on the Equity Book Resource List: “What cruel adults, to want to take these beautiful books from their young readers. Shame on them.” (@ElanaKArnold)

While Arnold’s books are frequently banned and challenged, I have not found any specific reference to An Ordinary Day. However, since the book features a same-sex couple, several blanket bans of children’s books with LGBTQ+ content would include it.



“An Ordinary Day.” (2019, December 12). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


“An Ordinary Day.” (2019, December 8). Kirkus. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


“CCBC Choices.” Teaching Books. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


“Kansas NEA Reading Circle Recommended Titles.” Kansas National Education Association. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


Arnold, E.K. [@ElanaKArnold]. A BOY CALLED BAT (and sequels) is included on this list of books being banned by the Central York school [Tweet]. (2021, September 16). Twitter. Retrieved November 4, 2022 from


Hottle, Laken. “An Ordinary Day.” (2020, February 1). School Library Journal. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


Whitehurst, Lucinda. “An Ordinary Day.” (2019, December 15). Booklist. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


Updated 4 November 2022


Book Resume created by Virginia Library Association and PDSAL