Water Day

S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665918718.
Gr 1-4–A seemingly simple story that speaks to the importance of water conservation. Water day is a joyous occasion in a little girl’s Cuban neighborhood. The good news is spread by word of mouth; everyone is excited to have fresh water to slake the thirst of people, animals, and trees. The narrator’s great-grandmother remembers a time when it rained all of the time, filling water jugs to the brim. But due to environmental and human-made changes, the community only has access to fresh water every five days. They have to boil the water they collect for cooking, bathing, and getting rid of bodily waste until the next delivery. When Water Day coincides with Fish Day, it’s truly a celebratory event, because mosquitofish are used to further sanitize the water from bacteria. Engle presents this weekly ritual in spare, free verse, giving readers a look into an essential community occurrence that brings home the dire need for water conservation. She works in the delight this neighborhood experiences with an understated but resonant message that is never preachy or pitying. Sua’s illustrations made on painted paper depict the liveliness with brilliant greens and majestic blues. The tropical setting is evident in the architecture and fruit trees. Sprinkles of Spanish add to the sense of place. An author’s note delves deeper into the global water crisis and how mosquitofish are used as a natural biological control to fight against mosquito-borne illnesses. The narrator’s family has brown skin.
VERDICT Engle packs so much into just a few powerful sentences. An excellent choice.

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