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Top 100 Picture Books #87: My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

#87 My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza (2005)
23 points

It’s an original trickster tale in the best sense of the word.  Really, when you get down to it, this book has everything.  Fantastic readaloud potential (or, if you memorize it by heart, storytelling potential).  Amusing pictures.  A great twist ending.  I first heard about this book in library school when a fellow classmate read it aloud to all of us, turning the whole room into instant converts.  To this day it remains one of my favorite picture books, so I was thrilled to see it make a high #87 on this list.  Well played, oh voters.  Well played.

Publisher’s Weekly described the book this way, “While sharpening his claws to hunt for his breakfast, a not-so-sly fox answers a knock on his door and finds a tasty-looking piglet. “This must be my lucky day!… How often does dinner come knocking on the door?” he exclaims, grabbing both the pig and a roasting pan. But when the quick-thinking, dirty piglet suggests that he would be a better meal if he were clean, the fox prepares him a soothing bath. When the piglet comments that he would provide more meat if he were fatter, the fox dons a chef’s hat and serves up spaghetti and freshly baked cookies. And when, nestled in the roasting pan surrounded by vegetables and being placed in the oven, the piglet reflects that he would make a more tender roast if he had a massage, the fox complies. Exhausted from his exertions, the fox collapses on the floor, leaving the piglet to skip home-with the rest of the cookies-proclaiming, ‘This must be my lucky day.’ In a final funny flourish, the last page shows the pig relaxing in front of a fire, reading a directory of other predators (with the fox’s name crossed out), wondering whom he will visit next.”

This has always been my favorite Keiko Kasza story, though I know that The Wolf’s Chicken Stew has its defenders.  And if you want to talk awards, it has done too badly:

Winner of the California Young Reader’s Award
Winner of the New Hampshire Lady Bug Picture book Award
Winner of the Illinois Picture book Award
Winner of the Arizona Book Award
Winner of the Indiana Young Hoosier’s Award
Winner of the Nebraska Golden Sower Award
Winner of the Nevada young Reader’s Award
Winner of the North Carolina Children’s Book Award
Winner of the Wyoming Buckaroo Book Award
Winner of the Georgia Children’s book Award
Winner of the Montana Treasure State Award
Michigan Reading Association Great Lakes Great books, Honor book
Nominee for the Washington Children’s Book Award
Nominee for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award
Nominee for the Mockingbird Reading Program, Texas
Missouri State Reading Circle Selection
Oppenheim Toys Portfolio, Platinum Award
Arne Nixon for Children’s Literature, Best Book

  • If you’re in mind to see something adorable, check out Ms. Kasza’s baby picture on her website.

PW starred it and said of it, “Kasza’s gouache art is as buoyant and comical as her narrative, and she skillfully uses multiple vignettes to convey the fox’s arduous preparations. The animals’ facial expressions alone could carry this tale.”

SLJ liked it too saying, “Set against white backgrounds, the lively gouache illustrations enhance the humorous and witty text. The fox’s facial expressions clearly reflect his range of emotions, as he goes from sheer elation to pure exhaustion. He is as gullible and endearing as the pig is sly and charming. A good choice for storyhours as well as one-on-one readings.”

Forward thinking Horn Book starred it and said, “The text, with its lively dialogue and effective repeating scheme, is pitched perfectly to preschoolers; the illustrations are some of the most expressive Kasza has ever done (and that’s saying a lot), full of narrative propulsion and humorous detail. Children who have this book read to them at bedtime or story hour will find it’s their lucky day, too.”

Kirkus appears to have been the sole wet blanket with a tepid, “It’s become predictable, this story of the pig outfoxing the fox, but Kasza’s version does sport his lively art and a measure of dry humor. . . Fun enough, though no self-respecting four-year-old will be very worried about this little porker’s fate.”  One would have thought they’d have noticed that Ms. Kaszka ain’t a “he”.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.