Laun­dry Day

Mau­rie J. Manning
  • Review
By – February 26, 2013

This love­ly and inter­est­ing sto­ry is told in graph­ic nov­el for­mat and con­tains more illus­tra­tions than text.

A lit­tle shoeshine boy, the main pro­tag­o­nist, is not doing much busi­ness. As he invites cus­tomers, a red scarf drifts down to him from a local res­i­den­t’s laun­dry line. He goes from neigh­bor to neigh­bor search­ing for the own­er of this scarf, climb­ing on rooftops and scal­ing down drain­pipes. On his jour­ney, he meets friend­ly local res­i­dents of every eth­nic back­ground, each one of whom intro­duces him to an expres­sion in their lan­guage. We meet Irish, Chi­nese, Pol­ish, Jamaican, Ukrain­ian, Scan­di­na­vian, Ital­ian, Jew­ish, and African Amer­i­can immi­grants, all of them help­ful and many of who give a treat or a pen­ny to the boy. At the end he keeps the scarf and is final­ly suc­cess­ful in get­ting at least one cus­tomer to agree to have his shoes shined. The dia­logue is charming.

Pic­tures tru­ly evoke a bygone era, with adults and chil­dren dressed in old-fash­ioned clothes. One two-page spread is a per­fect intro­duc­tion to the Low­er East Side or oth­er immi­grant neigh­bor­hood at the turn of the cen­tu­ry. The street is filled with carts and hors­es, and the side­walks are crowd­ed with shop­pers and mer­chants sell­ing from pushcarts.

The book does not have sub­stan­tial Jew­ish con­tent; rather Jew­ish res­i­dents of this neigh­bor­hood are intro­duced. The local rab­bi is one of the res­i­dents the boy inter­views on his search for the own­er of the lost scarf.

A laun­dry list of words to know” fol­lows the sto­ry. It con­tains the for­eign terms used in the book.

Beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions are done in dig­i­tal pen­cil, water­col­or, and pas­tel and are per­fect in set­ting the tone for the era and the sto­ry. End papers illus­trate sev­er­al laun­dry lines filled with old-fash­ioned men and wom­en’s clothing.

Rec­om­mend­ed as a read-to for ages 4 – 6, and as an inde­pen­dent read for ages 6 – 8.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

Discussion Questions