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Water Day

Illustrated by Olivia Sua

About The Book

A joyful picture book from acclaimed author Margarita Engle about a young girl and her community celebrating the arrival of the water man who visits weekly to distribute water to the village.

Water days are busy days,
grateful, laughing,
thirsty days.

A small village no longer has a water supply of its own, but one young girl and her neighbors get by with the help of the water man. When he comes to town, water flows like hope for the whole familia, and everyone rejoices.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Shevaun Williams

Margarita Engle is the Cuban American author of many books including the verse novels Rima’s RebellionYour Heart, My SkyWith a Star in My HandThe Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner; and The Lightning Dreamer. Her verse memoirs include Soaring Earth and Enchanted Air, which received the Pura Belpré Award, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, among others. Her picture books include Drum Dream GirlDancing Hands, and The Flying Girl. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Olivia Sua is an artist who creates elaborate works of painted cut paper. She was born in Washington State and now resides in Beaverton, Oregon. In 2020, Olivia graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in illustration. When she’s not illustrating, Olivia likes to grow plants from the windowsill of her apartment, quilt, and wander the public library. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 22, 2023)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665918725
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

"A young Cuban narrator anticipating a family water delivery offers a necessary reminder that water is a resource not freely available to all. . . This theme carries through to debut creator Sua’s painted cut-paper illustrations, which use hues of brown and blue. Focusing on the realities of limited water resources alongside an occurrence that makes “our whole neighborhood... noisy and lively,” the creators create a portrait of a day that “feels like a river of joy” flowing “for my whole thirsty familia.”

– Publishers Weekly

"A seemingly simple story that speaks to the importance of water conservation. . . [Engle] works in the delight this neighborhood experiences with an understated but resonant message that is never preachy or pitying. Sua’s illustrations made on painted paper depict the liveliness with brilliant greens and majestic blues. . . Sprinkles of Spanish add to the sense of place. . . Engle packs so much into just a few powerful sentences. An excellent choice."

– School Library Journal

"Engle’s free verse directly describes the recurring necessity of the water man’s visits, all while centering human experiences . . . Sua’s painted cut paper art is remarkably realistic and animated, capturing the busy milieu of the Cuban neighborhood, while the softer palette complements the routine of daily life amidst diminishing crucial resources."

– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Sua’s painted cut-paper illustrations in a rich pastel color palette are as inviting as the girl’s cheerful voice, which grows somber when recounting Bisabuelita’s memories about how the neighborhood’s water has dried up since she was young. The book culminates with an image of the family using their replenished water and a line that sums up how this tightly knit group views water day: “a river of joy that flows for my whole thirsty familia.”

– Horn Book Magazine

"In this understated, plainspoken, yet compelling tale narrated by the family’s child, Engle chronicles an unfortunate reality for many communities. Sua’s rustic, lively, cheerful artwork depicts a vibrant Cuban community with people diverse in skin tones. An insightful consideration of the global water crisis."

– Kirkus Reviews

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More books from this author: Margarita Engle

More books from this illustrator: Olivia Sua