Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

A Day of Signs and Wonders

Pearson, Kit (Author)
HarperCollins 2016. 212 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781443443999 (paperback)
9781443444019 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Historical

Text Elements:

character, characterization, dialogue, figurative language, setting

Award

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This “friend for a day” story introduces nine-year-old Emily Carr and a 13-year-old neighbour, Kitty O’Reilly. Carr and her sister are briefly staying with the disagreeable Crane family while their mother battles tuberculosis. After a chance early-morning encounter by the ocean, Emily and Kitty spend the day together. Kitty teaches Emily to use watercolours, though Emily is impatient with the medium, and rash in her choice of colours. Besides their difference in age, the two have dissimilar personalities: Emily is impetuous, frank and messy, while Kitty is quiet and seems wan, a result of her little sister’s death two years earlier. The day is emotional and fraught with ups, downs and adventure, and when it draws to a close, late at night, beneath the “bright slash” of the Great Comet of 1881, the two girls have changed: Kitty is beginning to come to terms with her bereavement and Emily has articulated a clearer sense of herself.

Both the main character, whose historical future holds visual-art renown, and her less-famous friend are distinctly developed, their voices and struggles clear and contrasting. Emily brims with confident spirituality, even at a young age; her figurative perspective on the world is already redolent of the art she will grow up to create—“shafts of sunlight pierced the gloom” of the forest. Kitty, meanwhile, is sombre as she deals with the loss of her beloved sister, but grows through her grief: she can “give in to the darkness,” she thinks. “Or she could be like the comet and blaze through it.”

An afterword provides biographical information on both historical figures.

  •  

    This story is set in Victoria, BC, in 1881. Discuss what life might have been like for children at this time. Revise your thinking as you read.

  •  

    How does family shape your identity? As you read, use a graphic organizer of your choice to record information about each of the main characters’ family members. Include details about their personalities and characters that are relevant to the story.

  •  

    Read the picture book, When Emily Carr Met Woo. Compare the portrayals of Emily Carr as an adult and as a child.

  •  Kitty and Emily’s differences cause them to change over the course of one day. What can we learn about friendship from reading this story? Make connections and use examples from the text to explain your thinking.
  •  

    Examine the map of Victoria at the beginning. Find it on a current map of Canada. From the information, make predictions about the story.

  •  

    As a group, make a list of the routines and activities of your typical day. As you read, create a timeline of this special meeting day for the girls. Compare the list and the timeline.

  •  

    Draw a character map for both girls. Discuss how they are similar and different. Compare and contrast their family lives. How do the two girls influence each other?

  •  

    Explore the work and character of Emily Carr. How does the novel depict her early personality?

  •  

    What was the Great Comet of 1881 and why was it special? What other celestial phenomena do you know about? Do you know of any current ones?

  •  Do you believe that a single day’s events can change or shape the rest of a teen’s life? In a group of three or four, discuss and agree upon five to ten life-changing events that can occur in a day. Be sure to discuss how these events affect someone’s life.
  •  Draw a T-chart with Emily and Kitty at the top. As you read and get to know the girls better, add adjectives to your graphic organizer associated to each girl.
  •  Write ten general comprehension questions that span the novel, then exchange with a partner and answer each other’s questions.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Personal Development
  • Visual Arts