On a book page, this tab will allow you to add a book to one of your lists.
Please login or register to use this feature.
9781554981342_cover Enlarge Cover
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $16.95
also available: eBook Paperback
published: Sep 2011

No Ordinary Day

by Deborah Ellis

reviews: 2
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $16.95
also available: eBook Paperback
published: Sep 2011

Shortlisted for the SYRCA 2013 Diamond Willow Award, selected as an American Library Association 2012 Notable Children's Book, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, nominated for the OLA Golden Oak Tree Award, and a finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards: Young Adult/Middle Reader Award, the Governor General's Literary Awards: Children's Text and the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award

There’s not much that upsets young Valli. Even though her days are spent picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. The only sight that fills her with terror are the monsters who live on the other side of the train tracks -- the lepers. Valli and the other children throw stones at them. No matter how hard her life is, she tells herself, at least she will never be one of them.

Then she discovers that she is not living with family after all, that her "aunt" was a stranger who was paid money to take Valli off her own family’s hands. She decides to leave Jharia . . . and so begins a series of adventures that takes her to Kolkata, the city of the gods.

It’s not so bad. Valli finds that she really doesn’t need much to live. She can "borrow" the things she needs and then pass them on to people who need them more than she does. It helps that though her bare feet become raw wounds as she makes her way around the city, she somehow feels no pain. But when she happens to meet a doctor on the ghats by the river, Valli learns that she has leprosy. Despite being given a chance to receive medical care, she cannot bear the thought that she is one of those monsters she has always feared, and she flees, to an uncertain life on the street.

About the Author

Deborah Ellis

Known around the world for her Breadwinner series, author and humanitarian Deborah Ellis has written nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of courage and social justice. Deborah's many awards include the Governor General's Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association's Notable List, and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. Deborah lives in Simcoe, Ontario.
Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

Deborah Ellis has won the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She is a member of the Order of Canada and has been named to the Order of Ontario.She is best known for her Breadwinner Trilogy, set in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a series that has been published in twenty-five languages, with $2 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
9 to 12
4 to 7
Reading age:
9 to 12
  • Short-listed, SYRCA Diamond Willlow Award
  • Long-listed, OLA Tree Awards
  • Long-listed, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
  • Winner, Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth
  • , CCBC Choices Best of Year
  • Commended, South Asia Book Award Honor Book
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Syliva Schwartz Young Adult/Middle Reader Book Award
  • Commended, ALA Notable Children's Books List
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Award: Children's Text
Editorial Reviews

Ellis writes with great skill...

— Horn Book Magazine, STARRED REVIEW

Deborah Ellis does not back down from world issues that need addressing.

— Sal's Fiction Addiction

Once again, Ellis writes a poignant, penetrating story about the difficult challenges of being a girl in the developing world.

— BookDragon

I would recommend this book to middle grade readers as a way to learn more about the world – and about supporting important causes.

— Amy Reads

A true-to-life portrait of a young girl’s cheerful selfishness in this surprisingly optimistic novel of unrelenting poverty.

— Kirkus Reviews

Ellis's straightforward language and uncompromising depictions of Valli's unimaginably harsh and gritty world combine with believable character development to create a strong and accessible novel.

— Publisher's Weekly

...solid and worthy of attention by both its intended audience and adults alike...Ellis continues to write what needs to be read...Recommended.

— CM Magazine

Ellis...creates a remarkable narrative voice, both detached and immediate...

— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A powerful and outstanding book..."

— Waking Brain Cells

The story highlights not only the overcoming of adversity, but also the importance of education and literacy. It also brings to light the issue of leprosy, which is misunderstood. An important, inspiring tale

— School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

...compelling and accessible...


Ellis is a passionate and respectful teacher...

— Quill and Quire

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Buy the e-book:

Reader Reviews

Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.
Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

No Ordinary Day

This middle grade novel’s dedication, “To those who are not truly seen,” could apply to many of Deborah Ellis’s award-winning novels. Once again, Ellis gives the reader a vivid, engaging and edifying perspective on life on the streets in a developing country through the eyes of a clever, impoverished child. Valli is a spunky street kid in India who is unaware that she has leprosy, a disease about which she accepts the common view: the people affected are monsters. The heavy issues in the novel – Valli is a child labourer, nearly sold into prostitution, sexually and physically assaulted, and malnourished – are filtered though the protagonist’s optimism and youthful ignorance. Older readers understand the gravity of situations that both Valli and younger readers miss, which is why this novel is suitable for Grade 5 students to adults. Perhaps Ellis’s greatest gift is making important global issues accessible to children. The book includes a glossary of Hindi words, an author’s note on leprosy and a short biography of Ellis.

No Ordinary Day could spark rich classroom discussion in social studies, literature and health. Copies of the book should be available at school and public libraries along with Ellis’s other works highlighting children’s plights in countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, Israel/Palestine, Malawi, the United States and Canada.

In keeping with Ellis’s past philanthropic efforts, all royalties from the novel go to The Leprosy Mission of Canada.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

No Ordinary Day

When Valli learns that she has leprosy, she cannot bear the thought that she is one of those monsters she has always feared and she flees to an uncertain life on the streets of Kolkata, India. When she meets Dr. Indra, things change for Valli and she learns that when you are in great need, it is okay to accept help.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

Related Blog Posts

Reading Lists Featuring “No Ordinary Day”

User Activity

Contacting facebook
Please wait...