The One Day House
written by Julia Durango; illustrated by Bianca Diaz
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
"One day," said Wilson, "I will paint your house orange and yellow like the sun."
Wilson and his elderly neighbor and good friend Gigi are sitting on her porch. The house looks a little weather-beaten with a missing piece of a railing and worn paint on the outside. Wilson proclaims to Gigi that "one day" he is going to paint her house orange and yellow "like the sun." She is pleased but tells Wilson that he is "all the sunshine" she needs. On the page is an illustration, drawn by Wilson, of what the house would look like. Later, Wilson tells the ice cream man that he is going to fix Gigi's windows. The ice cream man thinks it's a great idea. While helping to rake Gigi's leaves, Wilson tells a pair of neighbors, taking a walk, that he is going to fix Gigi's stairs so she can enjoy the view from her balcony. As the days and months pass, he mentions other parts of the house that he is going to fix. All of these ideas are prefaced with "One day..." In school, he displays a series of drawings that show all of the things that he wants to do to help Gigi. Finally, one day arrives. A group of friends and neighbors, inspired by Wilson's conversations and ingenuity, show up to Gigi's house with materials for repairs. A wonderful two page spread shows all of the work that is being done, with Wilson in the center holding a clipboard like a proud foreman.
The artwork and the community spirit in The One Day House remind me of the beloved book A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams. Both books have people who pull together to help others out in a time of need. Wilson is definitely a character I would share with students when trying to promote the trait of selflessness. I also really like how the illustrations show the changing of the seasons. When conferring with students reading the book, I would be curious to see if they notice this. I think the illustrations drawn from Wilson's perspective will help children connect even more to the book. A fun writing project would be for K or 1st grade students to write and illustrate "one day" sentences and make a class booklet. From now on, when I hear the phrase "Love thy neighbor", I will think of The One Day House and smile.