Written and Illustrated by Aaron Blabey
Front Street, 2008
I’m Sunday Chutney…and I’m a bit unusual.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl whose parents move frequently embraces her individuality
Sunday has lived in a lot of different cities all over the world, due to her father’s job situation. This means she is always the new kid at school. In spite of that, she finds ways to be confident and happy wherever she is. She copes by using her imagination and throwing herself into her interests. Sunday tells the reader all the things she likes, such as marine biology and worthy causes. She also mentions some things she doesn’t like, such as grumps and creamed corn. She enjoys making friends with girls, but isn’t so sure about boys. In the end, when trying to decide what her one wish would be, she isn’t sure if she would wish to stay in one house or have a monster truck.
Author/illustrator Aaron Blabey wasn’t always a children’s book author. He was an actor in his home country of Australia during the 90’s and early into the next decade. He left acting and turned his attention toward writing and illustrating picture books. Clearly, the man has a lot of talents. The dedication on this book reads, ‘For the new kids’ and Sunday, this story’s main character, is a wonderful role model for new kids (and all kids, really.) Her positivity and confidence in her individuality are both characteristics I imagine all parents would love in their children.
The illustrations, in acrylic and mixed media on watercolor paper, show Sunday in lots of different situations and showing lots of emotions, many of which will resonate with kids who have ever had trouble fitting in with a new crowd. I love that Sunday admits to feeling lonely and sometimes tired of moving around, and yet she embraces the positives in her situation and finds reasons to be happy. There are moments in the book where I felt that her character’s quirkiness felt a little too deliberate, which leans a little too much on the ‘hey, look how unusual and individual I am!’ for my taste. But the message is a good one and Sunday ultimately comes across as likeable exactly for who she is.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the key to fitting in a new place is to not worry about fitting in. Just be yourself.