Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Review: Upside-Down Friday by Lana Spasevski

The title of today's review caught my attention. Add that cute, little monkey on the front, and there was no way I couldn't take a peek to see what this book holds. Let's see if this monkey is as fun as I'm thinking he'll probably be! 

by Lana Spasevski
Illustrated by Nicky Johnston
EK Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Hugo the monkey doesn’t like Upside-Down Fridays. The day is the wrong way round; lunchtime is at morning teatime, and all his classmates’ smiles look like frowns. How will Hugo learn to tame the butterflies in his tummy and find the fun to be had in change?

Upside-Down Friday tells the story of the day Hugo embraces the unexpected. Walking to school, anxious thoughts swirl in his head. When he arrives, the day and his routine are as upside-down as he had feared. However, Maddie the giraffe knows how to help, and reassures Hugo that things won’t always be this scary. With this small gesture of friendship and understanding, Hugo begins to feel braver, reflecting how making new friendships, helping others, and accepting change can help reduce childhood anxiety and build resilience.

With its universal animal-kingdom setting, the story has likable characters who will resonate with all pre-schoolers and lower primary-aged school children who feel nervous about change. The emotive language and unique ‘upside-down’ illustrations make Upside-Down Friday relatable, immersive and accessible; an excellent resource for opening the conversation about anxiety and teaching strategies to cope with it.

Young children’s lives are full of big, scary changes like going to school and making new friends. Help them to build emotional resilience, and find the fun in days that don’t go to plan!



Hugo hates Fridays because they're upside-down. There's lunch for breakfast and all sorts of things, which just don't fit into the usual routine. But when he gets to school, a surprise awaits.

The illustrations in this one are lovely. They carry a gentler hue of colors, which have a calming effect even though scenes themselves are definitely not calm. The animals are a joy to see and easy to pick out. It's fun to flip through these and watch the monkey deal with strange, upside-down things.

This isn't a read for the youngest listeners but is great for ages 4 and up. It does make a good read-aloud and opens up for discussions concerning change, how to deal with it, and even meeting new friends. The tale flows smoothly and it's easy to feel Hugo's frustrations and hesitation with the odd situations. Plus, the surprise does put a smile on the face as the negative feelings change into positive ones. 

The story itself starts with a familiar scene of not necessarily wanting to get out of bed to go to school...something most kids will be able to identify with at one point or another. When Hugo goes to school, it's obvious that things are a little over-the-top and a bit of humor slides in. We did find the story a tiny bit confusing (as to what was happening and why this even was the way it was), but the message of someone reaching out to give a ray of happiness and it spreading came across nicely. It does show that there is something positive in odd situations, and they might be better than one expects. Plus, Hugo is super cute, and already makes this a lovely read.

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