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One Whole and Perfect Day


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About the Author

Judith Clarke was born in Sydney and educated at the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University in Canberra. She has worked as a teacher and librarian, and in Adult Education in Victoria and New South Wales. She now lives in Melbourne. A major force in YA fiction both in Australia and internationally, Judith Clarke's novels include the multi-award-winning Wolf on the Fold, as well as Friend of my Heart, Night Train, Starry Nights, and the very popular and funny Al Capsella series. She is unsurpassed in her ability to convey complex emotional states with acute understanding and compassion. Her most recent novel, Kalpana's Dream, was recently named an Honor Book in the prestigious Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards.


Writing with the same warmth and humor that characterized her earliest novels (the Al Capsella series), Clarke introduces a new cast of endearingly eccentric characters who are drawn together to enjoy "one whole and perfect day." Seventeen-year-old Lily, the youngest, most "sensible" member of the Samson clan, has well-founded misgivings about the upcoming 80th birthday party for Pop, her grandfather. She is sure something will go wrong (as it always does) when her unpredictable relatives unite, still she hopes for the "perfect day" of the book's title. Pop himself is having a feud with Lily's shiftless brother Lonnie, and has even threatened him with an ax, causing Lonnie to leave home and move into an apartment. Pop's wife, Nan, who is as soft as Pop is gruff, might be considered normal were it not for her invisible best friend, Sef. Then there's Lily's psychologist mother, who works in an adult day-care center and is always bringing home "old people whose care-giver children were quite desperate for a little break." While the novel mainly focuses on Lily's exasperation with her family's peculiarities, the third-person narrative shifts among other characters' points of view, which reveal old resentments as well as their mutual affections, affections that prove to be more deep-rooted than grudges. Filled with surprising turns of events and serendipitous encounters with strangers (who ultimately take on significance in the story), this book celebrates rekindled friendship and blossoming romance. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Filled with surprising turns of events and serendipitous encounters with strangers, this book celebrates rekindled friendship and blossoming romance.PW Children's BookshelfReading One Whole and Perfect Dayis akin to watching a talented circus juggler; Judith Clarke keeps so many balls in the air so effortlessly that one forgets how insanely difficult it is to do this ViewpointSprint 2006Most notable is her sharp, poetic prose, with its deadly, amusing accuracy.The Toronto Star

Gr 8 Up-Lily is sure that her family is freakish, "not freaks exactly, but getting there." And not one of them is particularly stable. Her mother keeps bringing home "lame ducks," old people from the senior day-care center where she works. Her brother, Lonnie, keeps changing his major at university because he's trying to find himself. Nan, Lily's grandmother, talks to an imaginary friend. And her husband threatens Lonnie with an axe if he drops another major. Lily feels like the only responsible, sensible one in the household-she does the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, and all of the other chores. She smells of boiled cabbage and window cleaner and wonders if she's getting to be an old woman before her time. To counteract this notion, she decides to do something foolish and young-fall in love. This novel is told by all of the characters, whose lives start out disparate and distanced. As the story progresses, their voices begin to draw in, overlap, and come together. Clarke's characters are fully realized both physically and emotionally. The pace of the plot is gentle and there are no real unexpected twists. Though readers will foresee the events to come, this does not detract from the enjoyment of the book. Some of the Australian idioms may be unfamiliar, but they won't deter most readers.-Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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