Lesléa Newman’s Donovan’s Big Day (2011)

Donovan's Big Day

Donovan’s Big Day (2011), written by the prolific and talented Lesléa Newman and charmingly illustrated by Mike Dutton, unfolds from the point-of-view of a young boy excitedly getting ready for his moms’ wedding ceremony.

Donovan is about nine-years-old with brown hair, green eyes, and pale white skin. His boyish bedroom is sparsely decorated but full of toys. It is here that the reader is introduced to the cheerful child who has a big day ahead of him.

The reader follows Donovan as he prepares for his big day. Reminders about how to behave flow rhythmically across the page, keeping the adult world present. Newman’s words create a sense of urgency and excitement. It’s the lyricism that makes the book so fun to breathlessly read aloud.  For instance, the reader visually follows Donovan down the stairs as the text reads: “He had to race downstairs/ and give Sheba her breakfast/ and gobble up all the pancakes…”. It’s giggle worthy because of the controlled frenzy.

It’s not until Donovan hands two gold rings to his moms that everything comes together for the reader. It’s Donovan’s BIG day because he is the ring-bearer and it’s his moms getting married. The wedding scene is beautifully drawn by Dutton who captures the family’s joy perfectly.

This is a great book for family’s preparing a little one to participate in a wedding as well as for families interested in expanding their bookshelf to include different types of family forms. The bright illustrations and lyrical text will make it a well loved book likely to be read again and again.

This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!


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