What you need to know:
• One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange street packs a lot of information into a short time period.
• The Great Depression and the Vietnam War are both touched upon in the book.
• Prepare your reader for the serious concepts – a brain tumor, planes crashes, pacemakers, war, memory loss, and
divorce – discussed in this story.
• The third person narration tells the story from different characters’ points of view.
• The author has a doctorate in psychology and previously worked as an elementary school teacher.
• This book should appeal to both boys and girls.
Sweet Book Summary:
I’m honestly not sure where to begin when discussing this book. I like the writing style, the delightful and sometimes quirky descriptions, and many of the thought-provoking ideas presented. Rocklin explores the “orange” – it’s color, texture, taste, smell and history – and weaves it expertly through a modern day tale of growing up and growing old. The story is delivered as if a movie camera is panning the neighborhood delivering fragments of information as the story slowly comes into focus. The details of each character’s personal conflict trickle out, enlightening the reader who must patiently wait as each page reveals more about the person. My concern is that keeping track of so many issues, some of which can be quite disconcerting, told from so many points of view (we even hear from the dog and the tree!) may be overwhelming to some readers. Not only does the story move among characters, it goes back in time to the Great Depression and the Vietnam War. In the span of only a day and a half, readers get to know the children that live on Orange Street today, some who lived there in the past, and the history of the tree that brings them all together. The map at the front does help to remind readers who the characters are and where they live.
Each child on Orange Street is dealing with some sort of conflict. Robert’s parents are separated, he’s been told he has an “emotional developmental lag” and his best friend has moved to New Zealand. Bunny follows numerous rituals and superstitions because she fears her mother’s plane will crash. Leandra is troubled by her parents’ announcement that they are having another baby (she’s old enough to know the “before” part). She is also concerned about the health of her grandfather, who has had a heart attack and now has a pacemaker. Ali’s brother is recovering from surgery after a tumor was discovered in his brain, and Ali worries that he’ll never be the same. Old Ms. Snoops is the keeper of the street’s history, but as Ali so eloquently puts it, “Ms. Snoops memory…was like the lacy antimacassars on the orange and green striped sofa’s arms. Ms. Snoop’s memory had little holes in it, here and there, where facts slipped through and disappeared.” There is also a mysterious stranger who pops in and out during the story, and whose own pain involves a parent dying in the Vietnam War. On top of their personal anguish, these kids are also experiencing the typical tween pains of growing up and changing friendships. They get into fights, have an exclusive club, act bossy, struggle with new vocabulary words, and generally try to figure out their place in the world. There is one thing that every person, creature and object on the street has in common, and that’s the orange tree that stands alone in the empty lot. The tree is the one solid, comforting, never-changing element in their lives. Under that special tree, the children learn how to be good friends and show compassion for others, stand up for what they believe in, and find hope in the future.
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