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No Ordinary Day

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  675 Ratings  ·  153 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)
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The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van DolzerDamian Drooth Ace Detective by Barbara MitchelhillAgenda by Virginia AirdLike Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie SternbergDon't Vote for Me by Krista Van Dolzer
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Jul 12, 2015 Tania rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub, fiction
"If you were not scared, you would be having just and ordinary day." That got through to me. I knew what an ordinary day was like. I did not want to go back to that.

A beautifully written story about the life a poor girl in India. Even though the book was short, I felt like I knew Valli. Highly recommended with young readers, I will definitely be saving this one for when my kids are a bit older. It has been listed for or won the following awards:
Winner of the Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for
Sonja Arlow
3 stars

The children in this book reminded me of the homeless kids in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

This story touches on prostitution, poverty, prejudice and leprosy all within only 155 pages.

Little Valli finds joy in the strangest of places. A free cup of tea, a “borrowed” blanket from a hotel, the luxury of sleeping in peace for a whole night, even if this sleep can only be found in a graveyard.

But one thing really scares her. The monsters on the other side of the train tracks, who have ear
Sep 23, 2016 Nithila rated it it was amazing
I think that this was a great book. It really spoke out to the conditions of the poor in India, and informed everyone who read the book about Leprosy and how it can be treated. The author explained the false view people have about it, and why they should think differently. I recommend this book to everyone so they can learn about this important issue!
Aug 15, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2012 Betti Napiwocki rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 30, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: ncbla
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
May 18, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
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
Mar 16, 2015 Stacie rated it it was amazing
Author: Deborah Ellis
Title: No Ordinary Day

Plot: Nothing really bothers young Valli. She is not one to wallow in self-pity (even when it seems that there is nothing in her life to be happy about). When she learns that the family she has been living with is not really her family at all she leaves the only home she has ever known and ends up in Calculla, India. There she learns that she doesn't need much to survive and that she is very self-sufficient. But perhaps the hardest lesson she will have
Dec 09, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-realistic
I'm a bit of a Deborah Ellis fan. Her books are solid. Her writing is reliable. Her characters are realistic. She doesn't glamorize that which shouldn't be romanticized. So when I saw that the librarian had selected a whole slew of her books for the school's e-reader, I started to read.

I think what I got the most out of this book is the absolute minimalism among the poor. When you're in survival mode, you don't have time to plan for the future; you're too busy dealing with the here-and-now of st
Sara Fallon
Nov 29, 2015 Sara Fallon rated it really liked it
This book review is about a very interesting book “No Ordinary Day”, by Deborah Ellis. “No Ordinary Day” is realistic fiction and you will enjoy this book if you are interested in learning about other people's lives who live in different countries and have different cultures. There is a young girl named Valli who is the main character. She does not have much to look forward to besides picking up coal every day and being hated by her fake family. This changes when she gets an idea to leave town o ...more
Terry Grodzki
Valli’s story is one of strength, friendship, loyalty and self-acceptance. Every day for Valli is a blessing which she embraces with joy and gratitude. She does not mourn what she does not have but makes the best with what she does. While her naiveté is somewhat comical, this character is endearing and totally lovable. As a homeless child in Kolcatta, India Valli survives her days by bathing in the Ganges, eating from dumpsters and off the street, while “borrowing” whatever else she needs from ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Madir rated it it was amazing
"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
Jul 25, 2016 Robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: mcba-2017
A very moving book that will introduce young readers to homelessness, leprosy, and . . . child prostitution. There's nothing graphic here, but children will ask what is happening and you might want to be prepared with how you will answer.

Although this is an easy book from a reading-level perspective, it is a hard one emotionally. The main character is a pre-adolescent girl who runs away upon learning that the not-very-nice family she lives with isn't really her family. (So, why stay?) She stows
Mar 04, 2014 piatpomp rated it really liked it
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
Katie Kim
Aug 09, 2016 Katie Kim rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2015 Melia rated it really liked it
Shelves: grade-8
"If you were not scared, you would be having just an ordinary day." No Ordinary Day is a brilliant realistic fiction novel written by Deborah Ellis that teaches the heroism of people around the world who are struggling for decent lives, and how they are try to remain kind in the spite of it.
Valli spends her day picking up coal and fighting with her cousins, but living in Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. There's not much that really upsets her, except for the monsters who live on the ot
Edward Sullivan
No ordinary novel! A heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story thanks to compassionate strangers, and an insightful look at the most impoverished life imaginable from the POV of a young girl.
Michele Velthuizen
Jan 30, 2014 Michele Velthuizen rated it really liked it
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
Hannah Hunt
Apr 05, 2016 Hannah Hunt rated it liked it
Shelves: wow
No Ordinary Day would be an ideal realistic fiction novel for fourth and fifth grade students. Readers are taken on a journey through the streets of India with the main character Valli. Deborah Ellis writes the novel in a way that is easy to read and recognize the superstition and mystery that shrouded the Indian culture. Audiences will be captivated the themes of perseverance and over coming the odds. This a book that will make it hard to put down!

This story would be great for social studies le
Jun 08, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Once I started "No Ordinary Day" by Deborah Ellis I could not put it down. I finished it in 2 days. It's about a young girl named Valli who lives in extreme poverty in India. She is looked down upon because she is poor, uneducated, and filthy. Even her family picks on her. But there are people who are even more despised than Valli, and Valli despises them too. Children call them monsters and they are people with leprosy. Valli cannot take the abuse from her family and town anymore, so she runs a ...more
Ms. Yingling
Feb 25, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
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
Dec 05, 2011 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
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
Mar 09, 2012 Jessikah rated it it was amazing
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
May 29, 2013 Jean Haberman rated it really liked it
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
Melissa Wine
Oct 22, 2012 Melissa Wine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
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
Oct 01, 2012 Morgan rated it really liked it
Shelves: diversity
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
Aug 15, 2012 Nicole Morissette rated it liked it
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
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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...

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“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.”
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