The Golden Day

( 1 )

Overview

When their teacher goes missing during an outing, eleven girls grapple with the aftermath in this haunting, exquisitely told psychological mystery.

The Vietnam War rages overseas, but back at home, in a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. Who was the mysterious poet they had met in the Garden? What actually happened in ...

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The Golden Day

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Overview

When their teacher goes missing during an outing, eleven girls grapple with the aftermath in this haunting, exquisitely told psychological mystery.

The Vietnam War rages overseas, but back at home, in a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. Who was the mysterious poet they had met in the Garden? What actually happened in the seaside cave that day? And most important — who can they tell about it? In beautifully shimmering prose, Ursula Dubosarsky reveals how a single shared experience can alter the course of young lives forever. Part gripping thriller, part ethereal tale of innocence lost, The Golden Day is a poignant study of fear and friendship, and of what it takes to come of age with courage.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jessica Bruder
…unsettling and atmospheric…Dubosarsky's spare prose explores the space between innocence and adulthood. Shaped by the girls' growing awareness of the world, her scenes are uneasy dreamscapes. Questions about responsibility, violence, sex, fear and death bloom beneath their placid surface. Unanswerable, they linger past the end of this slender but powerful volume.
Publishers Weekly
Blending mystery with coming-of-age themes, Dubosarsky’s novel, set in 1967 at an Australian all-girls school, explores a class’s response to the unexplained disappearance of their teacher. Miss Renshaw, lover of poetry and hater of capital punishment, takes her group of 11 “little girls” on a field trip to visit a public memorial garden and “think about death.” There they meet an odd groundskeeper named Morgan, who leads them into a cave to see ancient Aboriginal paintings. The girls exit safely, but Miss Renshaw and Morgan do not reappear, and the girls return to school as the tide sweeps in. The incident, later reported to authorities, bonds the girls as each faces bewilderment, guilt, and grief when it becomes clear their teacher will not likely return. Dubosarsky (The Word Snoop) subtly shows the impact of the tragedy through fragments of conversations, observations, and memories, while expertly sketching a cast of vulnerable, inquisitive children and ridiculous authority figures. Laced with humor amid a steady feeling of dread, the atmospheric narrative chillingly evokes lurking forces capable of tarnishing even the most golden and innocent of days. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
In a stunning feat of perspective, Dubosarsky inhabits all 11 girls at once, snaking through a thousand small joys and triumphs and fears and petty grudges as they absorb life’s bleakest truths as well their own complicity in them... [T]his is a masterful look at children’s numb surprise to the most unsavory of adult developments.
—Booklist (starred review)

Laced with humor amid a steady feeling of dread, the atmospheric narrative chillingly evokes lurking forces capable of tarnishing even the most golden and innocent of days.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Chilling, elegant, atmospheric... Ms. Dubosarsky deftly conveys the confusion of childhood, the strangeness of things half-glimpsed and only partly understood. With quiet brilliance she evokes the distinct personalities of the classmates... "The Golden Day" is the sort of book that churns something up deep inside the reader; it will be as hard for an adult to forget as the young people ages 12 and older for whom it is intended.
—The Wall Street Journal

Dubosarsky’s spare prose explores the space between innocence and adulthood. Shaped by the girls’ growing awareness of the world, her scenes are uneasy dreamscapes. Questions about responsibility, violence, sex, fear and death bloom beneath their placed surface. Unanswerable, they linger past the end of this slender but powerful volume.
—The New York Times

VOYA - Barbara Allen
Miss Renshaw is not a typical teacher in her small school in 1967 Sydney. She likes to take her eleven perfectly matched young girls to the cemetery and park across the street to provide them with a hands-on education of the world around them while she has long talks with the groundskeeper, Morgan. The girls think this is odd, but they do what the teacher tells them. She is fascinated by Morgan because he is a poet and a conscientious objector to the war. Some of the girls even swear that they saw Miss Renshaw and Morgan kissing. One day, Morgan convinces the young teacher to take her students to some nearby caves with Aboriginal paintings. Some of the girls are not too keen on this idea but go anyway because the teacher says they must. She also tells them they must keep their outings and Morgan a secret from everyone. While in the caves, some of the girls get scared, and they all leave the way they came. They expect their teacher to follow, but she does not. They think she might have left another way, and they decide to return to the school. But Miss Renshaw never returns. The girls keep the excursion a secret for weeks before one of them tells. An investigation is started because the teacher and the groundskeeper are nowhere to be found. The girls are traumatized by this event. Where is their teacher? Will she ever return? Did Morgan kill her? While the novel has a strong beginning, the end leaves much to be desired. The story is well developed until the author jumps abruptly to 1975 and final exams for the girls. This section has little or no development. The ending is meant to be a great plot twist but falls extremely flat. Reviewer: Barbara Allen
School Library Journal - Audio
11/01/2013
Gr 7 Up—From its atmospheric beginning with the mention of a hanging, Dubosarsky's gently unsettling story (Candlewick, 2013) centers on 11 "little girls" who don hats and hold hands each time they line up to venture with their teacher to a nearby park. The Australian setting and Vietnam-era time frame are occasionally part of the story which concerns Cubby, Icara, Martine, Elizabeth, Tallest Elizabeth, Shortest Elizabeth, Elizabeth-with-the-plaits, and four classmates and what happens when poetry-loving Mrs. Renshaw disappears on one of the field trips. The general suspicion is that she may have been done in, perhaps by the park's caretaker, and just 10 days later, a memorial service is held. The writing has a ripe, dreamy quality, with rich descriptions of a man's "owlish" voice, the violet beauty of cigarette smoke, and a rowboat that bobs "like a shy pony." The ending (when the girls are seniors) leaves Mrs. Renshaw's fate less sure than ever. Although the girls are consistently described as little, and appear to be about 10, the teacher's disappearance and the overall literary style suggest an older audience. Narrator Kate Rudd does an excellent job distinguishing each of the young characters, and her adult voices accurately capture the commanding tones ("like a Roman emperor") ascribed to some of the teachers. The relationship-driven story line (it doesn't center on investigating Mrs. Renshaw's disappearance) and the somewhat languid writing style may not attract everyone, but Rudd's excellent vocal interpretation will engage listeners drawn to the story.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven schoolgirls are haunted by their teacher's inexplicable disappearance during a field trip in this atmospheric mystery set in Vietnam War–era Sydney. Miss Renshaw's young students know their teacher is a bit eccentric. They also understand that their class's frequent poetry-writing excursions to a local garden are actually excuses for their teacher to see Morgan, a charismatic conscientious objector who is one of the gardeners. "It will be our little secret," Miss Renshaw says of their meetings with Morgan, but that secret becomes a burden when Miss Renshaw and Morgan vanish during an outing. Through precise, vivid descriptions, the third-person narrative evokes the contrast between the girls' cloistered school lives and the hard realities of the outside world. The students are "eleven schoolgirls in their round hats, with their socks falling down, hand in hand, like a chain of paper dolls"; meanwhile, soldiers are dying in Vietnam, and prisoners are being hanged at home. The mystery is less a whodunit and more a psychological study of the girls--especially anxious Cubby, whose friendship with sensible Icara is sorely tested by the affair--and invites comparisons to cult film classic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). Read this slender mystery for the meticulous prose and characterization, not for the plot. (Historical mystery. 12-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480518346
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 3
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ursula Dubosarsky is an award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. About The Golden Day, her first book with Candlewick Press, she says, "The little girls watch, wonder, respond, change, and grow — and then their childhood is gone, forever. This element of the story, I suppose, is at least partly autobiographical. But, as I say — all of our teachers come home safe and sound in the end." Ursula Dubosarsky lives in Australia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    Recommended by WSJ for young people

    A book about childhood secrets. When an adult says "it will be our secret,"that exploits a child's loyalty to keep quiet about something that should be spoken out loud. This is what a 4th grade teacher in an Australian all girls school says to her class. This creates a bond that will last throughout their childhood. It is 1967. This is a book for for young people reviewed in the WSJ that interested me for the story, time & location

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