Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Ordinary Day” as Want to Read:
No Ordinary Day
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

No Ordinary Day

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  484 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Even though Valli spends her days 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 is the monsters who live on the other side of the train tracks — the lepers. When Valli discovers that that her “aunt” is a stranger who was paid money to take Valli off her own family’s ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Groundwood Books (first published January 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about No Ordinary Day, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about No Ordinary Day

A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-FentonBehind Enemy Lines by Carol MatasRemembering the Titanic by Frieda WishinskyHome Invasion by Joy FieldingIn the Bag! by Monica Kulling
Golden Oak 2013
7th out of 8 books — 3 voters
Give Me Truth by Bill Condon90 Packets of Instant Noodles by Deb FitzpatrickSpeak by Laurie Halse AndersonNo Ordinary Day by Deborah EllisAnonymity Jones by James Roy
Discovery Summer Reads
4th out of 7 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 873)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This lovely book relates the story of a homeless child in India and her transformation into society at large. It reads almost like a memoir, emphasizing details from a year-long period in her life. Her encounter with a disease (won't tell what it is!) changes her whole being, and she is thrust into a new segment of her life with the knowledge that although she is unlike most others, she is not alone.

Ellis uses a perfectly believable voice for her main character, Valli, who is understandably bold
Learning that her "family" is not really her family is freeing for Valli. With this new information she runs away from the
coal town in which she was living to the city of Kolkata. Valli quickly adapts to city life and learns to survive on the streets. What she does not realize is that like the people in her home town that she made fun of, Valli also has leprosy. While swimming to find coins, Valli meets a doctor who takes her to the hospital where she works. Valli is grateful
for the care she rec
Betti Napiwocki
This week I read two Deborah Ellis titles in preparation for the Global Fair. I began with "No Ordinary Day" and quite honestly had a hard time getting through the first chapter because I couldn't quite find the rhythm of the story, and because the imagery was so disturbing to me. This feeling of unease soon passed as I continued on and finished this book in one sitting. I was so moved by the strength, courage, and ingenuity of the main character, Valli, as she made her way through life in India ...more
This author always manages to remind me that the world is filled with "haves" and "have nots," and makes me grateful for own much-easier life. When Valli finds out that the family she has been living with her entire life is not even related to her, she decides to leave the coal town of Jharia, India. Afer a series of unfortunate events, she ends up on the streets of Kolkata where she barely survives by stealing, borrowing, and begging. A chance encounter with a kindly doctor changes her life, an ...more
Melissa Wine
Diversity Novel:

I'd recommend this book for middle school readers. I love the underlying them of pay it forward! There are also strong themes of friendship, self-acceptance, and survival. Valli lives with a terrible aunt and uncle in Jharia, and spends her days picking up coal. Often, her cousins and her throw stones at the “monsters” across the railroad tracks. We eventually learn that these “monsters” suffer from leprosy. I think it is important for children in American classrooms today to lea
Mary Devine
I thought this books was great showing the hidden children in India. Those who live in poverty or worse than poverty. I found Valli a strange character but amazing too. For most of the book she did not see her "place" in life as something horrible. She accepted her lot in life with humility. I give her major kudos for hoping a random truck to wherever she could get to away from the family she thought were her relatives but weren't. It is interesting how she behaved when she realized more about h ...more
Mrs Mac McKenzie
Deborah Ellis is so good at telling the truth about peoples lives in a way that is not patronising but with feeling and compassion without you realising it. She does her research and really expresses life of the children she writes about in a way that informs without being preachy.

Along with her other novels No ordinary Day tells the story of a young person dealing with a situation that is out of their control and which they are making decisions based on the best information that have. Leprosy a
Annie Oosterwyk
This book took about an hour to read. It bounced lightly over such topics as poverty, homelessness, leprosy, prostitution and sex slavery and thievery. The main character thinks she has magic feet because she can stand in the hot coals of a burning ghat and not feel a thing. Lucky for her because her feet are in fact rotting beneath her. I found the presentation of such serious and tragic issues too superficial and brief. I guess middle school would be the audience, but who would want to explain ...more
"This compelling and accesible novel will enlighten, spark discussion, and prompt readers to try other Ellis titles." -Booklist, starred review What if you had to live on the streets and you were only ten years old? What difficulties would you have to face? Where would your next full meal be from? Well in the book "No Ordinary Day" by Deborah Ellis a young girl named Valli doesn't like her life in Jharia, India. She just wants to leave her old life behind and begin a new life. She has dream of o ...more
No Ordinary Day, by Deborah Ellis, was my favorite book of the 2nd Trimester. I liked because at the time I read it, I was in India, and I related to the setting of the book in many ways. It is set in Kolkata, North India, and even though I didn't go there, it reminded me of the Indian cities I did visit, like Mumbai, Jaipur, and Pune. They are all very, very busy, and sadly I did see street children. I feel like Deborah Ellis captured the view of a street child, especially a girl, very well. Va ...more
Michele Velthuizen
Another great book by the author of the Breadwinner series. If anything, this kind of book helps you become more empathetic towards those who are less fortunate than us. Valli, who lives on the streets after fleeing slave labor in the coal industry, is discovered, by chance, by a kind doctor who notices the wounds on her feet. Valli, doesn't feel any pain on her feet, but something is terribly wrong. Will she leave the freedom of the streets to get help or continue her carefree existence as a be ...more
Ms. Yingling
Valli works in the coal town of Jharia picking up stray pieces of coal, living with an abusive aunt and uncle. When she find out that these people were merely given money by her family to take her in, she runs away to Kolkata. When there, she is at first taken in by woman running a brothel (although this is not clearly explained-- I inferred it) until the woman realizes that Valli has leprosy. Valli lives on the streets for a while until she meets Dr. Indra, who cleans her up and tries to treat ...more
Valli, about 9, spends her days picking up coal. The best day of her life is the day she discovers the family she lives with is not her family. The feisty little girl leaps onto the back of a coal truck. No matter where she ends up, it's bound to be better than where she's come from.

Valli and her "cousins" used to throw stones at the monsters across the railroad tracks. The monsters - sufferers from leprosy - absolutely terrify this otherwise fearless little girl. An adult reader will soon figur
Valli picks up coal every day at her home town of Jharia, India. But when she discovers that the family she is staying with is not her real family, she is free to leave their abuse and fend for herself. She hops aboard a coal truck and ends up in Kolkata on the streets. There she “borrows” items that she needs, giving them to others who need them more when she is finished with them. She eats by begging for food and money or doesn’t eat much at all. Valli has one super power, she has feet that fe ...more
Deborah Ellis really knows how to write about difficult issues facing children in other countries in a way that makes their plight accessible to those who are unfamiliar. In the case of Breadwinner, Ellis discussed the repressed living in Afghanistan under the Taliban and in later volumes follows the plight of children from the first book during the war following 9/11.

In No Ordinary Day, Ellis manages to bring to life Valli, a young girl (probably around 10 years of age) in India who chooses to
Jean Haberman
A spunky, spirited girl named Valli lived in Jharia, India and spent her time picking up coal to get money to feed her family. Her family was mean to her and she only got left-over scraps to eat. Her cousins often scared her by threatening her with the monsters on the other side of the track. One day they threw her among the monsters. She didn't understand their hatred for her until she discovered that she was abandoned by her real mother and left to live with this family. Valli found a way to e ...more
I was excited to read No Ordinary Day, because I already have such a bleeding heart for orphans, specifically in third world countries. I have gone to Cambodia in Southeast Asia the past two summers to work at an orphanage and have made relationships with so many children that reminded me of little Valli. Leprosy is such an horrifying disease, and the social stigma surrounding it may be even more horrific. It is crazy to think about such a young child struggling through all of these things, espe ...more
Nicole Morissette
I found this book in the school recommended readings of the children's section in B&N. Luckily, this short required reading only took me about 45 minutes to read in-store. :) Shhh B&N is one of the most fabulous libraries... sometimes I buy things. ;)

So this takes place in India in a poor area in which the other side of the railroad tracks are avoided at all costs. People are known over there to be "monsters;" in actuality, people infected with leprosy. While leprosy is not commonly foun
Story Description:

Groundwood Books|August 22, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-55498-108-3

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
Erin Prosser
When i saw this book in the educational library, i read the description and saw the front of the book and saw that this book would be a great book for a book talk because it is about real world issues that we see today and could happen in real life.

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis is a issue filled book about a 10 year old little girl named Valli who lives in a coal mining town with a family who takes her in after her mother dies. Unfortunately, she doesn't discover this until later in the book
Jacob Polanyi
No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis was an entertaining an interesting read. It was a great novel and I would recommend it to anyone. This is a multicultural story about a young Indian girl named Valli who for the longest time only saw coal because she picked coal everyday as to function in the society that she lived in. The story first takes place in Jahria, India as Valli learns that she is scared of the people on the other side of the town because they have leprosy. Valli is a strong girl charac ...more
Bisma Kureshy
Diversity Novel
I absolutely loved reading this book. It was a window for me to another world that I did not really knew about. Vali's character is strong and independent. This is what I liked about her. Themes of love and hate are both present in the novel. When Vali finds out her family paid her Aunt to take her into their home, she runs away and this to me felt like she didn't want anyone to feel that she was a burden on them. Leprosy was also another condition that I was unfamiliar with but h
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A short novel with a strong, smart, interesting female protagonist. Valli, a poor girl who helps her family pick coal for a living, discovers one day that the people she is living with are not related to her at all. Realizing that there is nothing to keep her in that dusty, dirty village, she impulsively hitches a ride on a coal truck and finds herself in the big city of Kolkata, India. There she learns to live by her wits. Her philosophy of life is interesting. She takes each day as it comes (p ...more
Kim Browning
I expected this book to be about the tough times of living on the streets in India. I was surprised to find it was a story about so much more. The main character has nothing - food, family, home. She is a survivor. Not only does she survive, though, she gives to others as well. She "borrows" a blanket and when she is done with it she passes it on to a family that needs it. Even those of us that have 10 blankets in our warm homes, don't give one up to a family living on the streets. Here is a gir ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valli is destined to become a coal picker when the best day of her life happens and she realizes that she is all alone in the world. Now that she is an orphan street kid in Kolkata, she can do whatever she wants.

Ellis does a fantastic job of describing the world through Valli’s eyes – a protagonist who is both naive and extraordinarily insightful for a child. The only way Valli survives is by staying invisible and borrowing necessities from the people around her, always remembering to pay it fo
Wow, although this is a very slight book, only 155 pages, it has some heavy, mature content. Deborah Ellis' books are so eye-opening and effective at giving insight into the lives of tween and teenage girls in other parts of the world. This is the story of a girl in India whose mother dies giving birth to her, and whose father pays neighbors to take the unwanted baby off his hands. She is raised very harshly by people she believes to be her relatives. Hungry, dirty, abused, and lonely her twelve ...more
I am surprised. I didn't think I'd like this book. The cover looks... earnest. Like it wants to teach me something. I want to read fiction instead. (Silly me. I know the two aren't mutually exclusive...) There are one or two lines in the book that snuck up on me and punched me in the gut. I like it when that happens. In this case, serves me right.
Fan Wang
It's a great story overall. Valli was a poor girl and had a miserable childhood experience picking up coal, suffering discrimination and humiliation from almost everyone in the little village Jharia. Her family didn't treat her kind also because she didn't actually belong to them. I see Jharia as a place like hell, dirty hell, especially for a little girl who is eager for school, food and happiness. And I was glad she decided to leave and excited about her adventure afterwards. But her life in c ...more
I read this for a book club, otherwise I'm not sure it would have ever made it onto my radar. As Juvinile Fiction it is an easy read. Yes, Ellis does adresses issues of homelessness, poverty, and leoprasy in India with a light hand. However, for me, this is what makes the book readable. If she were to delve into the dark depths of sexual vulnerability/exploitation for instance, this becomes exploitive in itself. As an adult I have the ability to infer what is left unsaid - I wish more authors re ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 29 30 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Unforgotten Coat
  • Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
  • A New Year's Reunion: A Chinese Story
  • The Garbage King
  • Soldier Bear
  • Titanic Sinks!: Experience the Titanic's Doomed Voyage in this Unique Presentation of Fact andFiction
  • The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China
  • A Million Shades of Gray
  • Wild Wings
  • Boys Without Names
  • Migrant
  • Planet Middle School
  • One Year in Coal Harbor (Coal Harbour #2)
  • Chained
  • Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
  • Flyaway
  • A Dog Called Homeless
  • Nowhere Girl
Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t
More about Deborah Ellis...
The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner, #1) Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4) I Am a Taxi

Share This Book

“Nobody really owns anything. We give back our bodies at the end of our lives. We own our thoughts, but everything else is just borrowed. We use it for a while, then pass it on.
We borrow the sun that shines on us today from the people on the other side of the world while they borrow the moon from us. Then we give it back. We can't keep the sun, no matter how afraid we are of the dark.”
More quotes…