One Busy Day

A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters

By Lola M. Schaefer; Jessica Meserve (Illustrator)
(Disney-Hyperion, Hardcover, 9781423171126, 40pp.)

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

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All Mia wants is for her big brother, Spencer, to play with her. But he's always too busy! So Mia paints, and dances, and explores, and keep busy all by herself. But with a little imagination and a lot of love, Mia might just be able to show Spencer that it's a lot more fun to be busy together.

About the Author

LOLA M. SCHAEFER ( is the author of more than 200 books for children. Her book Frankie Stein was awarded the Children's Choice Book Award and the Mockingbird Award. Lola lives with her husband, Ted, in the mountains of north Georgia.

JESSICA MESERVE ( is the author-illustrator of Small Sister and Can Anybody Hear Me? She was born in Maine, studied illustration in Scotland, and worked in publishing as a children's book designer before pursuing a career as an illustrator. Her two young children helped inspire her artwork in this book.

Praise For One Busy Day

The wordless spot illustrations on the front end papers and the first few pages of this title make its issue quite clear: little sister Mia wants to play with big brother Spencer, but he's not having any of it. Resourceful Mia finds other things to do-painting, dancing, building a fort out of chairs and a blanket-and Spencer grows increasingly interested. As Mia bakes mud pies, builds a sand castle, and wades in her kiddie pool, he creeps more and more into the action, until the two are full-out engaged in pretend play together, fighting dragons and sailing rough seas. The closing page depicts the sleeping pair curled up in a chair together, while the closing end papers show the two happily reading, doctoring a teddy bear, and hiding in a box together. It's pleasantly refreshing to see a sibling book in which the left-out sib cheerfully musters her own resources for entertainment, and the happy resolution between the kids comes about in a natural and non-preachy way. Additionally, the layout sets an engaging pattern: the recto text begins Mia's action ("She explored . . .") and shows her actual enterprise (building the chair and blanket fort); a page turn reveals the outcome ("a deep, dark cave") in all its imagined glory (she's spelunking in a lamp-lit helmet and discovering cave art). Earthy tones, shaded blues, and verdant greens add life to the scenes, and the dry-brush-style technique combines with scratchy linework to add texture. Share this at a sibling-themed storytime, or perhaps encourage an older sib to read it aloud to a younger one. JH—BCCB

Mia, the newborn introduced in One Special Day (2012), is now a toddler, but older brother Spencer is too "busy" to play with her. She doesn't wallow-instead, "Mia painted... a bold, bright picture. She danced... like a twirly, whirly ballerina. She explored... a deep, dark cave." Meserve alternates between vignettes of Mia at play and elaborate imagined versions of each activity (mudpies in the garden are transformed into a kitchen overstuffed with baked goods). Readers will notice Spencer working his way into Mia's fantasies, and before long the two are fighting dragons and sailing the high seas together. For jilted siblings, it's an inviting reminder of their ability to make their own fun. Ages 3 5.—PW

The siblings introduced in One Special Day (2012) return, with Mia begging older brother Spencer to join her in play. But he is always busy, so she paints, dances, explores, bakes, builds, swims, discovers, and climbs solo. Finally Spencer joins her, and the two happily battle dragons side by side. Meserve's thicklined, crosshatched digital oil pastels brim with intriguing details. Mia's actual activities are depicted on the spread's right side; page turns reveal the activity as Mia imagines it: dancing on stage, discovering buried treasure, climbing a mountain. Alert readers will note that Spencer begins to take an interest in Mia's endeavors early on, moving closer and closer with each activity change. It's refreshing to see a confident younger sibling such as Mia, and gratifying that Spencer is so easy to persuade. Many readers will see their own sibling experiences mirrored here. - Kay Weisman—Booklist

In this sequel to their excellent new-baby story, One Special Day (2012), Schaefer and Meserve depict a growing sibling bond between big brother Spencer and little sister Mia. No longer a baby, Mia longs to play with Spencer. "But he was always too busy." Mia gets busy all by herself and engages in solitary imaginative play. Taking a page from Ian Falconer's Olivia (2000), whose heroine imagines herself as Maria Callas (among other luminaries), Meserve's art cleverly extends the text to expound upon plucky Mia's imaginative flights of fancy. For example, she goes exploring under a fort of chairs and blankets, but a page turn reveals her to be not in a dining room but in "a deep, dark cave" complete with drawings reminiscent of those discovered in Lascaux. All the while, Spencer observes his little sister's play and is soon enticed to join in on the fun, much to her delight. The pleasing text culminates in a circular ending that showcases the pair as "busy. Very, very busy-together." Throughout, Meserve's digitally rendered illustrations employ soft visual texture and bold colors to create a cheery, charming world for the two children to enjoy. Hooray for sibling revelry! (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus

PreS-Gr 1 Since her arrival in One Special Day (Hyperion, 2012), Spencer's little sister, Mia, has become an active little girl who just wants to play with her big brother. But Spencer is way too busy for her, so she becomes busy, too. Mia paints, dances, explores, bakes, builds, swims, discovers, and climbs. Slowly Spencer is drawn into her play. Together, they swim, discover, climb, and battle dragons, and "for the rest of the night Mia and Spencer were both busy very, very busy together." Schaefer's spot-on text is matched by Meserve's compelling illustrations. Especially effective is the pairing of text and art depicting the contrast between what is actually happening on one page and what the children are imagining on the next. For example, Mia goes from a kiddie pool to riding a dolphin in the ocean: "She swam in curling, crashing waves." Readers have to turn the page to see what is imagined, creating maximum suspense, which is great for storytime. This sweet tale hits all the right notes. Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH—SLJ

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