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Great Illustrated Books

Tell Me the Day Backwards

By Albert Lamb

Candlewick Press, 2011
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9780763650551

Parents and children will know they have found a tale destined to become a classic as soon as they open the cover and find endpapers featuring a sepia-toned, full-spread illustration of a hillside. This has been Timmy Bear's playground throughout the day and as he gets into bed that night, he and his mother play "Tell Me the Day Backwards." With occasional prompts from Mama Bear, Timmy is able to recount his activities from watching the sunset, to a swim in the river where he saw a scary fish, to being chased by bees – after eating a delicious snack of honey, of course – and many other small adventures since morning. In an invitation to very early readers, the text appears in a large typeface while warm sepia and watercolor illustrations provide a clear depiction of all of the day's exploits. Timmy remembers all the way back to being woken up after his deep sleep all through winter. Tonight, his mother tells him, "We'll sleep for just one night." And with that, even though Timmy has had some frightening moments in his day, youngsters are certain that he is off to a cozy, pleasant-dreams sleep.

Teacher Tips:
This book takes narrative skills a step further and helps children understand that sometimes, in storytelling, the sequence of events might be told backwards or revealed piece by piece (as with flashbacks). To help them learn the differences, let them act out the linear narrative of Timmy's day, then act out the scenes in reverse order. Ask them what would happen if they started with an event in the middle of Timmy's day.

Reviewed by : JMcD

Themes : ANIMALS. BEARS. BEHAVIOR. CREATIVE DRAMA. MOTHERS. PARENT AND CHILD.

If you love this book, then try:

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld. Duck! Rabbit! Chronicle Books, 2009.


Becker, Bonny and Kady MacDonald Denton. A Visitor for Bear. Candlewick, 2008.


Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion & the Mouse. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

Critics have said

An original concept distinguishes Tell Me the Day Backwards from other bedtime books, though in a way that also feels familiar and right.
The New York Times
The plot's contrivance creates a game within a game���kids will have fun discovering the cause behind the effect in each of the day's events.
Publishers Weekly
While bedtime stories abound, not all are equal. Make room on your shelves for this one.
School Library Journal