Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Today Is the Day

Walters, Eric (Author)
Fernandes, Eugenie (Illustrator)
Tundra Books 2015. 32 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781770496484 (hardcover)
9781770496507 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, setting

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:

Mutanu lives in an orphanage in Kenya. Despite the death of her parents, she tries to live up to her name, which means happy. On this day, she is especially cheerful: this is the day the orphanage celebrates birthdays. Some of the children know the day on which they were born, but others do not, and the orphanage honours them with a party—complete with cake, hats and presents—and, more importantly, with their very own birth certificate. As they all sing “Happy birthday to me!” Mutanu’s voice “seemed louder and her smile brighter than all the others.”

Told in a short, accessible narrative and printed in a small, childlike font, this picture book uses the perspective of one particular girl to present the true story of the celebrations held in a Kenyan orphanage to give orphans a gift that most people take for granted. Bright depictions of the orphanage—the courtyard with chickens and goats running about, the girls’ room, with drawings on the floor—create the impression of a happy, bustling, loving place. The full-page colour illustrations are welcoming and full of movement and activity, adding plenty of visual detail to the main birthday narrative.

The book closes with several pages of description of Creation of Hope, in Kikima, Kenya, a small community that includes over 500 orphans (largely due to AIDS). Details of the orphanage and the birthday program are accompanied by a map and photos of the facilities, the birthday celebrations and the real Mutanu.

  •  Discuss why some people celebrate birthdays. Why do children who are celebrated feel special?
  •  

    What impact does it have on the reader when the “Happy Birthday to Me!” section reveals that the story is based on a real orphanage and its orphans? Discuss the difference between narrative and narrative non-fiction.

  •  

    Write questions you would like to ask an orphan or the people who run the orphanage. As a class, select some questions and email them to The Creation of Hope.

  •  

    In a Venn diagram, compare your daily life and that of one of the orphans. What conclusions can you draw?

  •  

    The author is also one of the creators of The Creation of Hope. On its website, learn how this program was created and how it thrives today. Make a poster to share your findings.

  •  

    Discuss how you feel special on your birthday. What activities do you do? What do you eat? Who do you celebrate with?

  •  

    Mutanu’s name means happy. How does she show it? How do you show your happiness?

  •  

    After the book is read aloud, make a Venn diagram to compare your daily life and that of an orphan in The Creation of Hope. Create another one to compare birthday celebrations. What conclusions can you make?

  •  

    What impact does it have on the reader when the “Happy Birthday to Me!” section reveals that the story is based on a real orphanage and its orphans? Discuss the difference between narrative and narrative non-fiction.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship