Tuesday 13 April 2021

Upside Down Friday

Upside Down Friday written by Lana Spasevski, illustrated by Nicky Johnson (EK Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 925820850                                   

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Hugo didn’t like Friday’s. It was sport day at school. His day was turned upside down. The school routine was all wrong. That is until a school buddy helps Hugo settle his tummy flutters and become brave and embrace change.

Lana Spasevski is a debut author who has captured a child’s school fears and worries simply, and with a heart-warming lightness. Her wording is gentle and real. The dialogue conveys the emotion of the story well. ‘I don’t want to go to school. It’s Friday,’ he whispered to his blanket. Her use of short sentences allows the impact of the message and emotion to be played out masterfully. ‘I’m Madison,’ the girl said. The language is delightful and endearing. She swooped over Hugo and lifted him out of his deep bed. Lana has made every word count. The ending of the story is satisfying and warm. ‘Ready,’ he said. Her use of similes gives lovely visuals for the reader. Fridays made him squeak like a mouse and scurry deep into his bed. I particularly like Lana’s childlike voice that mirrors an understanding of a child’s world.

Nicky Johnson is an experienced illustrator with her own signature style. Her drawings are beautifully coloured with soft watercolours that are both childlike and inviting. Nicky’s choice of a monkey to be Hugo matches the character well to both the story and the title. The endpapers of colourful tree branches allow us to enter and leave Hugo’s upside-down world that rights itself. Nicky’s illustrations match and enhance the text and they bring in multiple layers of meaning. She cleverly shows Hugo’s life at home, his journey to school and the schoolyard. Hugo’s friends are other jungle animals that are upside down and mirror school yard frowns. Nicky masterfully conveys emotion with movement, colour and expression and she takes the reader in and out with perspective just like a camera. The cover is instantly inviting to a child. Nicky’s style is a perfect match for books with heart.

Upside Down Friday is a picture book for 3-8 years. This book gently shows how changes in routine can create anxiety. It is a wonderful book for both parents and teachers to explore adapting to change and shows that we all have those feelings of uncertainty. This book would make a great gift to any child who worries about change.

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