Genre: Coming of Age
Author(s): Joanne Rocklin
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: 04/01/2011
Reading Level: 8-12
Read Aloud: 8
Read Alone: 8
Other Choices: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Surviving the Applewhites, 3 Willows
Synopsis: Orange tree draws a neighborhood together in unique story.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that several characters in the large cast of One Day and One Amazing Day on Orange Street have tough situations, including one girl whose baby brother has a brain tumor, another girl who worries her frequently traveling mother will die in a plane crash, and a boy who desperately tries to accomplish something special so that his father will pay attention to him. While none of these problems is oversimplified, each is handled with realistic yet delicate care appropriate to the intended audience.
- Families can talk about all the different characters in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street. Which character do you relate to most?
- Do you have a place you like to go for comfort, the way the kids in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street have the orange tree?
- Some of the book's chapters are from the point of view of a pet. What would your pet say if it was narrating a day spent with you?
What's the story?
Once a part of an orange grove, the last remaining orange tree on Orange Street connects all of the street's residents, especially the children, who range in age from 9 to 11. ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET follows several of them over the course of a day and a half. Some gather under the tree to meet in a club; others go there when no one else is around to find comfort under its branches; an older resident of the neighborhood looks out her window and remembers her own childhood spent in the tree's shade. With the tree looking on (and even narrating a chapter), each child tries to work out his or her own private worries: Ali's baby brother has a brain tumor; Bunny's mother is frequently away on business; Leandra has a new sibling on the way; and Robert is lonely since his best friend moved away. When a mysterious stranger comes to town and a menacing orange cone appears beside the tree, the children realize they will have to join together for the tree, no matter what their private problems are.
Is it any good?
Several different viewpoints, the division of the day into different time periods, and periodic flashbacks give One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street a uniquely complex structure that might be off-putting to some readers. However, despite all the variables, author Joanne Rocklin manages to craft a simple and clear story whose many threads ultimately tie together in a satisfying conclusion. The large cast of characters is diverse and interesting, and each person is all the more likable for his or her flaws; the occasional short dose of an unusual narrator, such as the orange tree, serves to add both depth and humor to the story.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Examining one day through the eyes of many Orange Street residents inspires empathy for all sorts of behavior and situations. Points of view vary from young characters to old, and even, briefly, a dog, a mouse, and an orange tree, highlighting the fact that although everyone has worries and insecurities, and sometimes even serious problems like brain tumors or senility, each person has a story to tell and something positive to contribute to the community.
Educational Value: Some of the chapters in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street look back on previous times on Orange Street, so readers may pick up on historical details of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam era. One character loves to improve her vocabulary with the Oxford English Dictionary, and readers will definitely learn the meaning of "infrangible." The history of orange trees in Southern California is also covered when the orange tree that gave Orange Street its name tells its story.
Role Models: No character is perfect. Bunny is overly superstitious, Ali is stubborn, and Leandra can't control her temper. Ms. Snoops is losing her memory, and Robert is insecure. These flaws are exactly what make the characters in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street so easy to relate to. Through the Orange Street residents' interactions with one another, their families, and the all-important orange tree, they all find ways to resolve their problems, or at least come to terms with them.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: One character's father is killed by a booby trap in a tunnel during the Vietnam war, but the death is not described in detail. One of Orange Street's older residents frequently calls the police emergency number to report a murder, but the murder is always of a plant or tree.
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue