Name of Book: Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Day
Author: Emily Pearson
Illustrator: Fumi Kosaka
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Audience: Ages 4 – 8
Summary: One young girl, Mary, finds some blueberries along her way one morning and shares them with others. The woman with whom she shares make muffins and the caring deeds continue to multiply many times, ultimately coming back to Mary.
Literary elements at work in the story: The setting is not specific, but the action in the story could take place anywhere. It was interesting to find that this story was originally published 15 years ago; this is a newly illustrated edition. Repetition – both of the word ‘ordinary’ and of people sharing with five other people after they have received kindness – builds the picture of how one deed grows, culminating in a chart showing the math statistics of how many people Mary’s one deed might have affected.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The implications of one girl’s caring and sharing reach across a diverse society in which she lives. The ripple effects of her sharing the blueberries reaches out to places and people beyond her own world.
Theological Conversation Partners: The story of the feeding of the five thousand, where a young boy shares a loaf of bread and five fish comes to mind. The story of the widow sharing her meager resources with Elijah (1 Kings 17) is another connecting point with this story. The story of the early church is one where Christians cared for one another, sharing their possessions (Acts 4). The story of caring and sharing what simple resources one has is beyond time and an essential part of the call to discipleship.
Faith Talk Questions
- What is the most simple thing you can do in an ordinary day to care for someone else?
- Have you ever been moved to share with someone else from someone sharing with you?
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Patricia Freshney McKee for this book review.