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A Screaming Kind of Day

by Rachna Gilmore, Gordon Sauvé, illus.

Scully has to wear hearing aids, and she has a problem. At first glance, A Screaming Kind of Day seems to be the kind of children’s book I most despise – the aggressively therapeutic kind in which children with physical handicaps, divorcing parents, or embarrassingly ethnic grandmothers view their circumstances as devastating and then learn to accept them in ways that make too many adults feel comfortable and too many children feel queasy. What makes A Screaming Kind of Day unique, and quite wonderful, is that Scully’s inability to hear is not her problem at all. For much of the book, in fact, it’s her solution to the problem, which consists of a nasty brother, a fed-up mother, and a very bad day. Scully retreats from these scream-inducing annoyances by yanking off her hearing aids, happily rendering herself incommunicado until she and her family relax enough to acknowledge their love for each other.

Scully is as convincingly real a human being as any child in children’s literature, and her self-acceptance, so complete it’s left entirely unspoken, represents an important step forward in the depiction of children different from what we tend to call normal. For all its brevity, Rachna Gilmore’s text for A Screaming Kind of Day was a deserving winner for this year’s Governor General’s Award. Gordon Sauvé’s pictures, filled with discomfiting close-ups of taunting faces and unsettling points of view, brilliantly capture the aspects of Scully’s day that make her want to scream. They might well have been nominated for their own award.


Reviewer: Perry Nodelman

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 40 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 1-55041-514-X

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 2000-1

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: ages 4–8